UCSF LIBRARY DISPLAYS PUBLIC, PRIVATE WORLDS OF ARTIST ISAMU NOGUCHI

By Lordelyn del Rosario on December 17, 1999

The exhibition, “The Public and Private Worlds of Isamu Noguchi: A Selection of Works from The Isamu Noguchi Foundation, New York” is currently on display at the UCSF library. 

Presented by the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Art, Honors, and Recognition,  the exhibition includes models of four of Noguchi’s major public sculpture gardens and works created in the privacy of his studio.  This is the first time the models have been exhibited outside the Noguchi museum and will be at UCSF until March 15, 2000 while the museum is closed for the winter.  The other rarely seen works will remain in the library until June 2001. 

“As one of the most important sculptors of the Twentieth Century, Noguchi is underrepresented in public collections in California, in particular, the Bay Area.  His works are not well known here even though his interest in the stage, conceptual works, design, as well as public art, spans almost the entire century,” said Lynne Baer, curator of the exhibit and art consultant to the Chancellor and the art committee.

An exhibition of Noguchi is relevant and appropriate for UCSF for two important reasons, adds Baer.  As UCSF is in the process of creating a new campus at Mission Bay, an exhibition on how artist-inspired spaces can visually enhance and activate an environment is timely.  Noguchi’s personal and public dialogue between East and West also has special resonance, said Baer, as UCSF has an East Asian collection which includes some 500
pre-1868 rare Japanese and Chinese books, 400 manuscript titles and 400 Japanese prints relating to indigenous medicine in Japan and China.  Works by Noguchi complement this collection in a unique way, she said. 

Noguchi’s public commissions and private works reflect the complexity and diversity of an artist who lived in both Eastern and Western worlds.  Born in Los Angeles to Japanese poet, Yone Noguchi and American writer Leonie Gilmour, Noguchi
who was born in 1904 and died 1988, spent his childhood in Japan, moved to Indiana as a teen and later apprenticed to Roman sculptor Constantin Brancusi in Paris for two years.

Noguchi spent the next two decades in the Far East and Europe studying both ancient and modern cultures as well as native arts and crafts.  He always returned to New York to work and exhibit. 

From the 1960s on, he divided his time between Mure, Japan,  and his studio in Long Island City, New York, now the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum.

Throughout his career, whether he was working in his studio or collaborating with architects, designers, or choreographers, Noguchi created his own visual vocabulary based on the contrasting elements in his life. 

The works in the exhibition demonstrate this diversity yet display a consistency of vision.  The models for the public gardens include “Sunken Garden for Yale University,” “Sunken Garden for Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza, New York,” “Cullen Sculpture, Museum of fine Arts, Houston,” and “California Scenario” for South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, California.  The sculptures date from 1955 to 1984 and include works created from stainless steel, bronze, and marble. 

The Chancellor’s Committee on Art, Honors, and Recognition is pleased to present this exhibition as part of its mandate to enhance the public spaces of the campus and to explore the humanistic relationship between art and science, said Baer. 

A long term loan of five sculptures from the Isamu Noguchi Foundation is also on view at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.  The loan consists of outdoor sculptures dating from the 1960s through the 1980s and complements the exhibition of Noguchi’s public and private worlds exhibited at the UCSF library. 

Media interested in more information on the exhibit or interested in viewing the exhibit should contact the UCSF News Office at (415) 476-2557 or Lynne Baer at
(415) 931-1592

(LPD Noguchi 12-99)