Columbians Ahead of Their Time
 Isamu Noguchi
Isamu Noguchi
Photograph courtesy of The Noguchi Museum. Photograph by Jun Miki, 1987.
"I like to think of gardens as sculpturing of space."

Isamu Noguchi (1904-88)
Columbia College 1922-24

A renowned sculptor whose artistic visions bridged east and west, Isamu Noguchi was also a designer, architect, and craftsman. Educated as an artist in New York, he studied in Paris with modernist and abstract pioneer Constantin Brancusi in the 1920s on a Guggenheim Fellowship, meeting and socializing with the likes of Alexander Calder, Morris Kantor and Stuart Davis. In the 1930s, he developed friendships and associations with R. Buckminster Fuller, who influenced his work, and Martha Graham, for whom he designed sets. Rising to prominence as a sculptor of the New York School during the 1940s, Noguchi created hundreds of landscape projects and public sculpture throughout the world. Among his most notable works are History Mexico (Abelardo Rodriquez Market, Mexico City, 1936), News (Associated Press Building, New York, 1940), the gardens for UNESCO headquarters (Paris, 1958), and Red Cube (140 Broadway, New York, 1968). In 1961, Noguchi moved his home and studio across the East River from Manhattan to Long Island City, Queens. In 1985, he established the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, in which he installed over 250 of his works.

After graduating from high school in Indiana in 1922, Noguchi served as a summer apprentice to Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore. He moved to New York in the fall to begin premedical studies at Columbia. In 1924, his mother encouraged him to take an evening sculpture class at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School. The school's head gave Noguchi his first exhibition after three months, prompting Noguchi to leave Columbia to devote himself to sculpture.

Read more about Isamu Noguchi in the Columbia Encyclopedia.


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