Isamu Noguchi: Stones and Paper

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Isamu Noguchi: Stones and Paper (56:00)
Item# 6936

This program is a timeless retrospective on the life and career of Isamu Noguchi, whose binational heritage sent him back and forth between Japan and America seeking a new artistic synthesis. He started his career in Paris as Constantin Brancusi’s apprentice. He made his name in New York. And, after World War II, he brought a fresh modernist wind to Japan, putting his mark on Japanese ceramics, gardens, and paper lanterns. His late masterworks—rough stone monoliths that echo both Brancusi and the Zen garden of Ryoanji—marry East and West in an absolutely original way. (56 minutes)

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Segments in this Video - (18)

1. Important 20th Century Artist (01:45)
 Available for Free Preview

Isamu Noguchi is considered one of the most important artists of the 20th century. Through his eclectic creativity, sculpture has taken a central place in our lives.

2. Noguchi as the Outsider (02:35)

Born of an Irish-American mother and Japanese father, the complex Noguchi is the "outsider" for much of his life. He becomes part of the New York art scene.

3. Noguchi's Early Career (02:45)

In 1924, 20-year-old Noguchi attends night school in New York and is soon exhibiting his work. Inspired by Brancusi, he goes to Paris to study. His early abstractions do not sell.

4. Portrait Sculpture and Set Design (03:35)

Noguchi's portrait sculptures evolve as signature pieces. Collaborations with other artists lead to 30 years of set design for top choreographers. Bucky Fuller inspires him to expand traditional boundaries.

5. Japanese Connection (06:04)

Longing to connect to his Japanese roots, he travels to Japan to meet his father, but he is disappointed by this relationship. Recalling his childhood, he feels rootless and lonely.

6. Designs are Rejected (01:59)

Returning to New York during the Depression, Noguchi's revolutionary designs are rejected by city planners. However, they are socially relevant and precursors to earth art.

7. Noguchi Gains Recognition (03:34)

Noguchi gains recognition at 42 after creating a mural in Mexico City, a mural for the Associated Press Building in New York City, and surrealistic slotted-stone sculptures.

8. Sculpture as Living Experience (01:42)

As abstract expressionism becomes popular, Noguchi becomes frustrated with the politics of art. He believes that sculpture should be an important part of the living experience.

9. Japanese Influences (03:04)

Noguchi travels to Japan and is welcomed by his half-brother and inspires the youth. He is impressed by the designs of Japanese gardens.

10. Noguchi Lanterns (03:31)

After WWII Noguchi designs the faculty room at his father's university in Japan along with two access bridges. He designs his version of Japanese lanterns that are sold throughout the world.

11. Marriage Inspires Playfulness (03:31)

At 47 Noguchi marries a young actress and settles in Japan; however, they divorce. During this time he creates playful new forms from age-old materials.

12. Japanese-Style Gardens (03:21)

In 1956 he is commissioned to design the Japanese-style garden in the courtyard of UNESCO in Paris. This leads to more gardens and public works projects.

13. New Ways to Fashion Stone (02:34)

In 1960 Noguchi creates a sculpture garden in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. He is interested in sculpture as experiences in people's lives and finds new ways to fashion stone.

14. "Black Sun" (02:58)

In 1968 Noguchi returns to Japan to work with the "hard stones." He creates "Black Sun" for the Seattle Art Museum. Work for him becomes a record of his accidents.

15. Redesigning Space Around Sculpture (02:44)

Noguchi creates numerous large scale projects in the United States, often demanding that architects redesign the building around the sculpture in order to create a unique experience.

16. Museum in Queens (01:46)

In 1985 the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum opens in Queens, New York. It contains some of the best examples of Noguchi's work.

17. Noguchi's Values (02:36)

Noguchi's deepest values are found in each piece. He struggles with the dilemma of how to transform, but not destroy. All of his earthly experiences are found in his sculptures.

18. Restless Spirit (03:28)

A restless spirit and world traveler, Noguchi's legacy is revealing people's place in the world and sense of belonging that can be suggested through art.

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