Isamu Noguchi Research Report

1188 words - 5 pages

Noguchi's FountainFor this assignment I chose the full-round functional sculpture Fountain by Isamu Noguchi located in the Noguchi Sculpture Court of the Nelson-Atkins Museum. One might be surprised to know that the Nelson-Atkins Museum actually exhibits the largest number of Noguchi sculptures in a public setting outside the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Museum in New York City. Whenever one visits the Noguchi Sculpture court, it is natural to sit on a nearby bench and observe the reactions of the other museum patrons as they enter the tranquil domain. One can see the calming influence that washes over the faces of those who make the time to slow down and take in the full experience. The calming and relaxing environment draws people in and beckons a contemplative mood.The focal object in the Noguchi Sculpture Court is a piece that Isamu Noguchi completed in 1987, simply called Fountain. This piece is appealing to me because it has a serene, Zen aesthetic to it. Fountain is composed of two large and extremely heavy basalt stones of roughly the same size, but differing in aspects of form. There are varying textures in this piece, and it requires careful study to discern them all. Upon closer inspection, one can deduce that the top surface of one stone is concave with rough-hewn sides, while the top of the other stone is convex with glossy smooth sides. Both of the stones have cool-looking water flowing wondrously up from their interiors, gathering in a still pool at the tops of each, then cascading gently over the sides of the stones coating them like a second skin. The water deepens the stones' color and creates a meditative gurgling sound as it trickles over a bed of white river rocks below, while also reflecting the natural light streaming through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The river rocks create a striking contrast in color and size to the two main stones, and the installation includes the long white bed of rocks stretching underneath a nearby window to marry the inside world with the outside. Noguchi aimed for Fountain to have the effect of bringing nature into a peaceful room, and I feel that he was very successful in this endeavor.Isamu Noguchi was born in 1904 to an Irish-American mother and Japanese father. Throughout his life, Noguchi struggled to find his identity as part of two cultures. His childhood was split between stays in Japan and in Indiana. After high school, Noguchi enrolled in Columbia University in 1923 as a pre-med student, while at the same time attending evening sculpture classes at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School on the Lower East Side. It wasn't long before he realized that art, not medicine, was his true calling. He left school and found a studio where he could sculpt full-time. While in Manhattan, he became acquainted with the work of the Surrealists and with contemporary abstract sculpture. These interests led him to Paris in 1927 on a Guggenheim Fellowship, where he met and worked as an assistant with the...

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