Director Emeritus Grant Holcomb speaks about this object.
Noguchi's life and art seem but a natural blending of ancient Eastern traditions with contemporary Western aesthetics.
He was born in Los Angeles, California---his father a Japanese poet, his mother an American writer. He spent boyhood years in Japan, apprenticeship years in Paris under the tutelage of Brancusi and, later studied calligraphy in China. Noguchi is one of the brilliant masters of modern art whose sensitivity to space, forms and materials has influenced 20th-century sculpture, as well as landscape design, furniture, ceramics, and even the dance and theatrical stage.
Calligraphics exemplifies his primary tenets as an artist: his sensitivity to a wide variety of materials (here, iron, wood and rope); his balancing of fluid, sensuous shapes with thrusting, rigid verticals; his interest in void as well as in volume; his Brancusi-inspired subtlety of abstract forms; and, of course, his interest in calligraphy.
Indeed, this particular work can be considered calligraphy in iron with the two major shapes referring specifically to Japan. Thanks to two Japanese visitors to the Gallery, we now know that the top form signifies “the sun” (reminding us that the Japanese national flag contains the crimson disc symbolic of the sun) while the lower shape in the sculpture means “the origin,” which is certainly, in part, the national identity of the artist.
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