Isamu Noguchi: Culture in Every Sculpture

Traveling across nations was the key to unlocking the knowledge in fusing culture and arts for Noguchi.

He had travelled far throughout his life. He discovered the impact of massive public works in Mexico, earthy ceramics and peaceful gardens in Japan, subtle ink-brush techniques in China, and the purity of marble in Italy.

Photo Courtesy:

Isamu Noguchi was a Japanese-American artist that resided in Los Angeles. During his younger years he was really drawn to sculpting.

In Connecticut he worked for the artist Gutzon Borglum before moving to New York City to enroll in Columbia University. He took sculpture classes at the Leonardo da Vinci School of Art in New York's Lower East Side.

Photo Courtesey: Smithsonian Learning Lab

Onorio Ruotolo, Isamu Noguchi's instructor in Sculpting.

With his initial portrait busts, it helped him support himself as he quickly left the university to pursue a career as an academic sculptor.

Isamu Noguci successfully established two studios located in Japan and New York, known as "The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum '' where a variety of materials are being used and showcased inspired from his travels.

Photo Courtesy: Architectural Digest

These materials include stainless steel, marble, cast iron, balsa wood, bronze, sheet aluminum, basalt, granite, and water in his work, incorporating all of these sensations.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Noguchi traveled widely in Asia, Mexico, and Europe before returning to New York. He made a living off of portrait sculpting and design commissions, suggested landscape works and playgrounds, and crossed paths and collaborated with a wide range of luminaries.

Photo Courtesey: The Noguchi Museum

His work of art has added to contemporary culture, as so his studio showcases. One of his most successful works was inovating the traditional stone sculptures we know of today into something more contemporary, Akari Light Sculptures.

Akari light lanterns are still considered and recognized to be one of the aesthetic home decorations we can find today.

With its airy, light weight and free flowing to geometric shapes supported by bamboo ribbing covered in washi paper.

The light is hidden and its harsh glow is softened by the fibrous material, which is created from mulberry trees. Akari is the Japanese word for "light as illumination."

Due to the lessons, materials, craftsmanship and more that he had garnered while traveling in persuit of achieving his dreams he had taken Japanese materials, innovated it and created it into something that the whole world would know and discover. 

Written by: Ellyssa van Schaijk

Ellyssa van Schaijk is a digital marketing intern of PS Media Enterprise. She is a 3rd-year Bachelor of Arts in Communication student from Batangas State University-Arasof Nasugbu Campus, Philippines.



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