Isamu Noguchi’s new show celebrates his reverence for Greece

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Noguchi’s new show celebrates his reverence for Greece

Opening of a new design exhibition “Objects of Common Interest: Hard, Soft, and All Lit Up with Nowhere to Go” in collaboration with Objects of Common Interest at the Noguchi Museum in Queens, New York (September 15, 2021 – February 13, 2022 )

A new exhibition at the Noguchi Museum celebrates Isamu Noguchi’s love and reverence for Greece, an affection shared by Objects of Common Interest co-founders Eleni Petaloti and Leonidas Trampoukis, who run their design and design practice. architecture between Athens and New York. The exhibition includes works of objects of common interest, such as tubular lamps, opal resin “rocks”, fabric Doric columns and blue steel sculptures, which have been arranged and placed in reciprocity with the artists. existing works of Noguchi, by Dakin Hart, the director of the Noguchi museum curator and organizer of the exhibition.

Isamu Noguchi and Greece

Objects of common interest, Tube lamps (2019), installed among Isamu Noguchi’s late-career basalt and Manazuru stone sculptures in the interior-exterior gallery of the Noguchi Museum, zone 1. works of art © Objects of Common Interest and © The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum / Artists Rights Society.

In his working years, Noguchi (1904 – 1988) began to make regular stops in Greece on his round trips between New York and Japan, although he first discovered Greece through the mythology that he read his mother: he once described the country as his “intellectual home”. At one point he located a marble craftsman from Penteli who was carving rudimentary blocks of marble for him to work on in New York City, but his relationship to Greece went far beyond the physicality of manufacturing. He befriended the local creative scene, attended operas and dinners, and often carried a copy of Henry Miller’s Greek Travel Journal, The Colossus of Maroussi. Speaking to a Greek journalist in 1958, he recalled a recent trip to Delphi: “Have you noticed how well space articulates with objects and people’s movements, and how point, with what wisdom is everything framed by nature?

Exhibition in preparation

Objects of common interest, Offerings – Rock III (2000), joins Isamu Noguchi Practice rocks in placement (1982 – 83) in the garden of the Noguchi museum. works of art © Objects of Common Interest and © The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum / Artists Rights Society.

Petaloti and Trampoukis of Objects of Common Interest, who are also co-founders of the architectural firm LOT, have long been admirers of Noguchi. When the museum released its extensive archives online in 2019 (including the expansion, redesign and digital publication of its catalog raisonné), making tens of thousands of photographs and documents available to everyone, the research of the duo intensified.

‘Eleni and Leo have been interested in Noguchi for a long time. They live not far away; it’s their neighborhood museum, ”says Hart. “The exhibition started off in the best possible way, with no idea of ​​an exhibition, in a conversation: about Noguchi, and Greece, and nothing in particular. What gradually attracted me was the relaxed and meticulous way they develop things that don’t serve any specific purpose, real or marketable. They are exuberant and brilliantly infallible in their non-face. It’s a rare quality, which is deeply adjacent to Noguchi, ”he says, noting the gentle and exploratory approach of Petaloti and Trampoukis. “If your entire process is an adaptation without a specific or particular end in mind, it’s much easier to find yourself in a place that’s right for you – even during a pandemic and an international shipping apocalypse.”

Petaloti says: “When it was written, the title of the exhibition,” Objects of Common Interest: Hard, Soft, and All Illuminated with Nowhere to Go “, expressed a hope, perhaps even an expectation, that this fall, a space for a kind of redemptive abstraction without a playful purpose would have returned to everyday life.Reality had other ideas.

The collaboration

The Acropolis, Athens, Greece, c. 1950s. Photo: Isamu Noguchi. The Noguchi Museum Archives © The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum / Artists Rights Society

Noguchi and the Objects of Common Interest share a synergy: the ability to smoothly pass global perspectives together. Petaloti and Trampoukis describe their approach as “an amalgamation of thoughts and creations between two different poles, Greece and New York, passing from the formal to the intuitive, embracing the handmade and the tactile, the experimental and the poetic”. Likewise, with studios in New York, Japan and Italy, Noguchi’s traveling existence has given him a fluidity of existence, living everywhere and nowhere. Still challenging the realm between art and design, his pioneering exploration of sculpture outside the formal gallery setting, the social impact of art, the meeting of conceptualism and formalism, continue to feel so poignant. and relevant today than they were decades ago.

Digital and democratic

Isamu Noguchi, Kyoko Kawamura and Nikos Kouroussis with the Omphalos stone in Delphi, Greece, 1988. The Noguchi Museum Archives © The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum / Artists Rights Society

Along with the exhibit, rich and robust digital functionality on the Noguchi Museum website shares much of the background material and research that shaped the evolution of the exhibit, providing valuable and often unseen context. Entitled “Noguchi in Greece, Greece in Noguchi”, the report includes intimate and personal archival documents such as Noguchi’s own photographs of the Temple of Apollo taken in Dephi in 1949 and of the Acropolis in Athens from the 1950s, and handwritten correspondence to local acquaintances. A series of books will follow, expanding the content of digital functionality, including more photographs. §

Isamu Gilmour (Noguchi), ‘The Greeks and Socrates’, 1922, high school essay. The Noguchi Museum Archives © The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum / Artists Rights Society

Isamu Noguchi, Torso, 1926. Plaster. The Noguchi Museum Archives © The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum / Artists Rights Society

Isamu Noguchi with Kouros (1945) at the exhibition ‘Fourteen Americans’, Museum of Modern Art, New York, September 10, 1946 – December 8, 1946. Photo: Eliot Élisofon. The Noguchi Museum Archives © The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum / Artists Rights Society


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