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genius of the week

Isamu Noguchi

How does one sculpt space? How do objects give form to the surrounding emptiness? This puzzle, posed both by Europeans like Giacometti and Brancusi and the Zen artists of Japan, creates a theme that runs through the work of Isamu Noguchi. It is not one he attempted to solve, but like the Zen master, posed the question in different ways.

One of the great sculptors of the 20th century, Noguchi created "lived spaces" for the theater, interiors gardens and playgrounds. He also sought to bring sculptural qualities to the many objects he designed for common use. As a young man, Noguchi studied medicine at Columbia University, but abandoned medicine to pursue painting and sculpture and in 1927, a Guggenheim fellowship took him to Europe. In Paris, he had the great good fortune to be apprenticed in the studio of Constantin Brancusi, whose investigations of form and space recalled the art and architecture Noguchi knew from childhood years spent in Japan.

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