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Isamu Noguchi


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(b Los Angeles, 17 Nov. 1904; d New York, 30 Dec. 1988).

American sculptor and designer, the son of a Japanese father and an American mother, both of whom were writers. He grew up in Japan and often returned there in later life. His training included a period in Paris (1927–8), during which he worked for a few months as Brancusi's assistant, turning under his influence from figuration to abstraction. Although he used various materials, including wood, bronze, and iron, Noguchi was essentially a stone carver and his work has a kinship with Brancusi's in its craftsmanship and respect for materials as well as its expressive use of organic shapes. After the Second World War he became recognized as one of the leading sculptors of the day and from the 1960s he had many major commissions for public spaces that allowed him to fulfil his long-held ambition to combine Western modernism with Eastern traditions of contemplative art. A notable example is Hart Plaza, Detroit, with its huge Dodge Memorial Fountain (1972–9) in stainless steel and granite. Noguchi also had a distinguished career as a stage designer.

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