For Isamu Noguchi’s first solo exhibition in Manhattan since 2004, The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum collaborated with Pace Gallery in Variations, which ends Saturday, March 21.
The exhibition is a microcosm of the comprehensiveness of the artist’s work, for which he used a variety of materials to create a variety of objects. From sculpture to paintings to paper lanterns to furniture, Pace Gallery in Chelsea showcases the versatility of an artist whose career spanned 70 years.
Variations juxtaposes an assortment of Noguchi’s large-scale sculptures with delicate paper lanterns, blending his dual heritage through his use of traditional Japanese materials and focus on American modernism. The illegitimate son of Léonie Gilmour, an American educator and journalist, and Japanese writer and poet Yone Noguchi, Isamu was born in LA and spent his childhood in Japan. His mother’s devotion and his extensive travels shaped the iconic artist he became.
For many of his sculptures in Variations, Noguchi used basalt, marble, wood, or fiberglass, and the sharp geometry of some pieces contrast with the organic, free form shapes of others. Some works, such as Age, combine smooth surfaces with rough edges.
Noguchi, who died in 1988 at the age of 84, mass produced functional art that is still used today. His Akari Light Sculptures use traditional mulberry paper and lightweight wood and have been in production since 1951. He began collaborating with American furniture manufacturer Herman Miller to create the famous Noguchi coffee table. Examples of both are on display at Pace.
Also on display are Noguchi’s set pieces created for a Martha Graham theatrical production. Throughout his career Noguchi designed more than twenty sets, which he described as “the sculpture of spaces,” for the influential modern dancer/choreographer.
After Variations closes Pace will publish a catalogue of the exhibition that will include photographs of the installation and a new essay by art critic John Yau.
Pace Gallery is located at 508 W. 25th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues) and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. For more information on Variations, please visit Pace Gallery’s website, and for more information on Isamu Noguchi, please visit The Noguchi Museum’s website.