Artist biography

Isamu Noguchi born 1904 [-1988]

American-Japanese sculptor and designer, whose works form a blend of the western and oriental traditions. Born in Los Angeles of a Japanese father and an American mother. Brought up in Japan 1906-18. Worked for a few months with the sculptor Borglum at Stamford, Connecticut, then began to study medicine at Columbia University 1922-4. Turned definitively to sculpture in 1924 and studied briefly at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School in New York. Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1927 and spent two years in Paris, where he worked as assistant to Brancusi in the mornings and in the evenings studied drawing at the Grande Chaumière and the Atelier Colarossi. First one-man exhibition at the Eugene Schoen Gallery, New York, 1929. 1930-2 in Peking and Japan, where he studied with the potter Jimmatsu at Kyoto, then returned to New York. Supported himself for some years mainly by making portrait heads. Designed a number of sets for Martha Graham from 1935 onwards, and later also for Merce Cunningham, Balanchine and others. Turned again to abstract sculpture in 1942, mostly carvings in stone, marble, slate or granite, or cast in bronze or iron. Since 1950 has made frequent visits to Japan and has designed gardens in the Japanese tradition for UNESCO in Paris, the National Museum, Jerusalem, and elsewhere. Lives in Long Island City, New York.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.562