SCULPTURE IN STONE, STEEL, AND BRONZE

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ISAMU NOGUCHI
SCULPTURE IN STONE, STEEL, AND BRONZE
1/1/2004 - 01/01/2005

In 1952, Gordon Bunshaft, chief architect of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, invited Isamu Noguchi to plan an urban garden for the plaza of Lever House.  Bunshaft's approach to resolving the large open area under his building was relatively novel in the early 1950s, in that he thought of the area as a site for an environmental, sculptural work.  This project was the beginning of one of Noguchi's most important and innovative collaborations with an architect.  

  

Bunshaft stated:  'We hoped to have sculpture integrated with the total design, including landscape, and Noguchi was the only sculptor that I knew of in the world who had the requisite knowledge of architecture, of plant material and space design'it seemed to us wrong to have a predetermined design for a plaza and terrace'.'  

  

Noguchi made two detailed designs that featured a large marble-encased platform perforated with planting areas, a shallow reflecting pool, and columnar biomorphic sculptures in stone and marble.  The project, however, was never realized at Lever House, although Noguchi incorporated elements of his design into subsequent projects, including buildings later designed by Gordon Bunshaft.  

  

The current installation of Noguchi sculptures on the Lever House outdoor plaza is a long-term loan from the Isamu Noguchi Foundation, New York.  This display of eight sculptures in granite, basalt, steel, and aluminum does not attempt to recreate or suggest the artist's original proposal.  Rather, it is presented in the spirit of Noguchi's original plan to integrate contemporary sculpture and architecture into the urban environment.  In addition, the plaza now features a number of round and square seats in black and white marble that were part of Noguchi's original 1952 proposal.  To coincide with the sculpture installation on the outdoor plaza, the Lever House Lobby Gallery presents a temporary exhibition of six bronze sculptures that were completed by the artist in 1962.  

  

The Isamu Noguchi Foundation, Inc., is dedicated to maintaining and promoting the artist legacy of sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988).  The Foundation operates the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum; manages an extensive archive and collection of Noguchi works; and organizes exhibitions and loans of the works of Isamu Noguchi.  The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum is located at 9-01 33rd Road at Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, New York.   

  

Richard D. Marshall, Curator  

  

  

Works in the Exhibition:  

  

All sculptures are lent courtesy of The Isamu Noguchi Foundation, Inc., New York; Bonnie Rychlak, Curator.  

  

South Plaza  

  

Age, 1981, Basalt 

 

Sculpture Finding, 1979, Basalt  

 

Thebes, 1982, Basalt 

 

To Darkness, 1965-66, Miharu granite  

  

 

North Plaza  

  

Black and Blue (Interior Landscape), 1959-81, Painted aluminum  

 

The Kite, 1958, Stainless steel  

 

Pylon (Tall One), 1958-82, Hot-dipped galvanized steel  

  

 

Lobby Gallery  

  

The Sun at Midnight, 1973, Granite 

 

Lessons of Musokokushi, 1962, Bronze  

 

Mortality, 1962, Bronze 

 

Shodo Flowing, 1962, Bronze  

 

Soliloquy, 1962, Bronze 

 

Spirit, 1962, Bronze  

 

Victim, 1962, Bronze  

  

  

ISAMU NOGUCHI  

Model of First Proposal for Lever House Sculpture Garden, 1952.  (View toward East, from above)  

  

ISAMU NOGUCHI  

Model of Second Proposal for Lever House Sculpture Garden, 1952.  (View toward Southeast, from above)  

  

ISAMU NOGUCHI  

Model of Second Proposal for Lever House Sculpture Garden, 1952. (View from Park Avenue)  

  

ISAMU NOGUCHI  

Model of Second Proposal for Lever House Sculpture Garden, 1952.  (View from 53 Street)  

  

ISAMU NOGUCHI looking into model for Lever House Sculpture Garden, 1952  

  

  

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