Portland Museum of Art
7 Congress Square
Portland, ME 04101
This exhibition of approximately 40 sculptures and 10 works on paper examines the ways Noguchi reimagined the possibilities of sculpture over the course of his 60-year career, bringing together varied aspects of Noguchi's expansive production—which included traditional sculpture, landscape architecture, memorials, stage sets, interior designs, furniture, and more—and highlighting the artist’s belief that the sculptor’s role was "to order and animate space." Noguchi was as comfortable creating monuments and gardens as he was collaborating to produce industrial design and stage sets. Juxtaposed across the exhibition, his works complicate notions of form and function and use the mix of materials, shapes, and techniques to encourage audiences to reimagine their sense of what sculpture can be.
In 1986, just two years before he died, Noguchi served as the American representative at the Venice Biennale—the most-prestigious international contemporary art exhibition of the time. The show, which the artist titled Isamu Noguchi: What is Sculpture?, confounded many critics in its diversity of styles and materials. Nevertheless, it got to the heart of Noguchi’s ambition to investigate sculpture’s potential to inform social spaces and spur physical, intellectual, and even spiritual engagement between audiences and artworks.