Grecian Museum of Contemporary Art Presents BETWEEN EAST AND WEST

By: Mar. 25, 2010
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The first-ever exhibition of work by Isamu Noguchi to be presented in Greece opens on June 27, 2010, at the Museum of Contemporary Art on the island of Andros. Isamu Noguchi: Between East and West, which is on view through September 26, 2010, has been organized by theMuseum of Contemporary Art of the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation in collaboration with The NoguchiMuseum in New York City. Isamu Noguchi: Between East and West includes sculpture, drawings, models, and photographs, illuminating the diversity of Noguchi's body of work.

The exhibition comprises seventy-six works- including sculpture, drawings, and models-as well asdocumentary photographs. Together, these reveal the exceptional breadth of Noguchi's work, highlighting itsdiversity of both medium and genre and illuminating theways in which the New York-based, Japanese-Americanartist drew inspiration from cultures across the globe.

Museum of Contemporary Art Director Kyriakos Koutsomallis states, "The Museum is thrilled to offer the people of Greece, as well as our many international visitors, the first exhibition of work by Isamu Noguchi to be presented in our country. Noguchi was aworld traveler, and he absorbed and brilliantly transformed the art of innumerable culturesEast and West, including that of Greece, which he visited on many occasions. Isamu Noguchi: Between East and West reveals the formal invention and aesthetic inspiration thatresulted from this global perspective. The Museum of Contemporary Art is grateful to TheNoguchi Museum not only for its generous loan of the works in the exhibition, but also forthe expertise and knowledge it has so freely shared."

Noguchi Museum Director Jenny Dixon adds, "The Noguchi Museum hopes that visitors to the Museum of Contemporary Art on Andros will be as inspired by Noguchi'swide-ranging creativity as the artist himself was by the art and culture of Greece. Noguchi's mother, who was a writer, frequently read the Greek myths to her son, and these had alifelong impact on his work. We are delighted to share Noguchi's work with the Museum, where they will be seen to beautiful effect. The close integration of the Museum building with its natural surroundings mirrors the way that Noguchi himself incorporated nature intohis work. We are grateful to Kyriakos Koutsomallis and his colleagues for enabling The Noguchi Museum to share the artist's work with new audiences.

Isamu Noguchi: Between East and West encompasses Noguchi's career from 1927 to 1988. Installed in eight galleries, in roughly chronological order, the exhibition begins withan overview of the artist's biography-including a brief chronology (in Greek and English), photographs, and documents-and moves on to a display ofhis early sculptures, installed in the following gallery. Thesereveal the influence of both Brancusi, with whom the artistapprenticed while in Paris on a Guggenheim Fellowship in1927, and the Surrealist movement. In works such as the brassGlobular (1928), for example, Noguchi is seen turning away from the academic, figurative sculpture he had been making, and moving toward abstraction.

The focus on this period of Noguchi's career continues in the next gallery, with five gouache drawingsfrom the 1927-28 series titled Paris Abstractions. Noguchireferred to these works as "studies in sculptural outline." Adisplay at the other end of this gallery highlights the artist's travels to Greece and the ways inwhich Greek culture inspired his work. Included are four sketches completed in Greece; twosculptures carved from Greek marble, Bird D (1957) and Pregnant Bird (1958); and the largealuminum sculpture Orpheus (1958).

Visitors to the exhibition will next encounter a series of photographs documenting thepioneering work that resulted from Noguchi's unusually close and sustained collaborationwith legendary dancer and choreographer Martha Graham. Their working relationship extended through some four decades and has been regarded by many as a high point in thehistory of modern dance theater.

The following gallery is fully occupied by works on paper, including studies for the sculptures Avatar and Cronos. Among the highlights of this section are two of the artist's large-scalePeking Drawings, created in 1930 during an eight-month stay in Peking, whereNoguchi worked with the great painter Ch'i Pai-shih.

The drawings are followed by a gallery devoted to sculptures in marble, dating primarily from the 1960s. These include twelve works, ranging from the organic Woman, of1969, to the geometric model for Slide Mantra, dating from 1966; from the rough-textured Asleep in a Rock, of 1966, to the smooth Wrapped Figure, of 1962.

Noguchi believed passionately in a public role for sculpture, stating that "in the creation and existence of a piece of sculpture, individual possession seems less significant than publicenjoyment. Without this purpose the very meaning of sculpture is in question." A galleryfocused on these works represents a range of public commissions and presents models ofplaygrounds, a fountain, and a pool, along with photographs of sculpture gardens. Included here is a model for the artist's Monument to Heroes (1943), comprising a cardboard cylinderthrough which bonelike forms made of wood, as well as a real bone, protrude. With itselements held in place by string, the work is a delicate yetpowerful indictment of war. Noguchi called it "a dirge forfutile heroes who killed themselves-for what?"

The exhibition's final gallery is installed in twosections. The first presents Noguchi's late sculptures,informed by his intense interest in the qualities and artisticpossibilities of different kinds of stone. The second is devoted to the artist's groundbreaking designs for furniture and otherobjects for the home. Combining great beauty with utilitarianfunction, these provide eloquent testimony to the artist'sbelief in the integration of art with everyday life.

Museum of Contemporary Art, Andros

The Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation's Museum of Contemporary Art, located on the Greek island of Andros, presents highlights from the Museum's Permanent Collectionof modern and contemporary work by Greek and International Artists, as well as specialexhibitions offered during the summer months. These have included both group showsexploring such topics as British art of the 1960s and milestones in the history of photography, as well as one-person exhibitions devoted to the work of artists ranging from Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, to Henry Moore, to Balthus, to Henri Cartier-Bresson.

In addition to presenting its collection and special exhibitions, the Museum has anactive publishing program and a rich agenda of educational activities.

The intimately scaled Museum of Contemporary Art is housed in two adjoining buildings. The first, completed in 1979, is designed by Stamos Papadakis; the second, designed by Christos Kontovounisios, opened in 1986. The buildings are closely integrated with the surrounding landscape and gardens, designed by Miranda Spiliotopoulou-Vazaka. For additional public information:

The Noguchi Museum

Occupying a renovated industrial building dating from the 1920s, The NoguchiMuseum, which is located in Long Island City, New York, is the only museum in the U.S. founded by an artist specifically for the display of his or her work. It comprises ten indoorgalleries and an internationally celebrated outdoor sculpture garden. Since its founding in 1985, the Museum-which celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2010-has exhibited acomprehensive selection of the artist's works in stone, metal, wood, and clay, as well as modelsfor public projects and gardens, dance sets, and his Akari Light Sculptures. Together, this installation and the Museum's diverse special exhibitions offer a rich, contextualized view ofNoguchi's work and illuminate his influential legacy of innovation.

For additional public information:


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