“Everything is sculpture. Any material, any idea born into space without hindrance, I consider sculpture”
Born in the United States, Noguchi grew up in Japan, where he attended primary school. He returned to the States in 1918 and completed secondary school in Indiana and then began studying Medicine at Columbia University, New York. He enrolled in the Leonardo da Vinci Art School in 1924 and left university to devote himself to sculpture. He became member of the National Sculpture Society and began exhibiting his works at the National Academy of Design and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In 1927 he received the J. S. Guggenheim fellowship thanks to which he moved to Paris and worked as an assistant to Brancusi for six months. After returning to New York, in 1929 he held his first solo exhibition at the Eugene Schoen Gallery. In 1930 he moved to Beijing, where he learnt ink drawing, and then to Japan, where he saw the Haniwa sculptures and Zen gardens, worked with ceramics and showed his works at the "Nikkaten" exhibition in Tokyo. In 1931 he returned to New York and in 1933 he arrived in London: he started his first large-scale projects and the first design sets for Martha Graham. He visited California and Mexico. In 1937, he returned once again to New York, where he started to design his first works for private commissions and projects for public spaces. In 1949, thanks to a scholarship from the Bollingen Foundation, he travelled to Europe, Egypt, India, Cambodia, Indonesia and Japan, where he lived from 1952 to 1958, before returning to New York. In 1961 he started a five-year collaboration with Louis Kahn and in 1962 he worked with the American Academy in Rome and Henraux, Querceta. In 1966 he established the Akari Foundation in New York, which became the Isamu Noguchi Foundation in 1980, and then opened the The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum in 1983.
Among his solo exhibitions, of note are: Charles Egan Gallery, New York 1949; Modern Art Museum, Kamakura 1952; National Modern Art Museum, Tokyo 1966; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York 1968, 1980; Cordier & Ekstrom Gallery, New York 1970; MOMA, New York (977; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 1978. He took part in several group exhibitions, including: "Trois siècles d'Art aux Etas-Unis", Musée du Jeu de Paume, Paris 1938; MOMA, New York 1946; São Paulo Art Biennial, Brazil 1951; "Documenta", Kassel 1960, 1964; "Expo", Osaka 1970; Venice Biennale (he represented the United States, 1986); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris 1986; Museum of Art, Dallas 1987.
Among his many works, worthy of note are: Hiroshima Bridge; UNESCO Gardens, Paris; "Sunken Garden", Yale University, New Haven; Sculpture Garden, Israel Museum, Jerusalem; IBM, Armonk; "Kodomo No Kuni", Tokyo; "Red Cube", 140 Broadway, New York; "Octetra", Spoleto; Seattle Art Museum; Western Washington University, Bellingham; Bayerische Vereins Bank, Munich; Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach; Pepsico, Purchase; "Playscapes", Piedmont Park, Atlanta; Cuyahoga Justice Center, Cleveland; Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Storm King Art Center, Mountainville; Square, Finanziaria Fiere, Bologna; Bayfront Park, Miami; Cleveland Art Museum, Ohio; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Japanese-American Cultural Center Plaza, Los Angeles; Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth; Water Garden, Domon Ken Museum, Sakata; Sculpture Garden, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Park, Sapporo; Takamatsu Airport, Shikoku.
Among the man recognitions received throughout his long career: "Honorary Degree of Fine Arts", New School of Social Research 1974; Honorary Member, New York Society of Architects 1975; Gold Medal and Member, American Institute and Academy of Arts and Letters 1977; Honorary Degree, Columbia University, New York 1977; Kyoto Prize, Inomori Foundation 1986; National Medal of Arts, Washington D.C. 1987; "Third Order of the Sacred Treasure", Japanese Government 1988; Award for Distinction in Sculpture, Sculpture Center, New York 1988. His works are included in the collections of major international art museums, public spaces and several private collections all over the world.
He arrived in Versilia (and then returned periodically) in 1962 to create his works at Henraux S.p.A. and also at the Giorgio Angeli, Studio Sem, Sauro Lorenzoni, Officina and Massimo Pellegrinetti laboratories and at Fonderia Tesconi. He participated in a number of expositions in the Apuan-Versilia area, including the "Mostra Nazionale del Marmo" in Carrara in 1972 and in "Artisti e artigiani in un centro storico" in 1976, "Il passato e la presenza" in 1982-1983 and "Il disegno degli scultori" in 1988, at the L. Russo Cultural Centre in Pietrasanta.