Roger L. Simon

Noguchi on stage

exhibit_gallery_1.jpgSheryl, Madeleine and I went down to LA’s Little Tokyo today to catch the Isamu Noguchi – Sculptural Design show at the Japanese American National Museum. Noguchi was a patient of my father’s and I remember meeting him when I was little boy (I noticed all the adult women going into an immediate flutter), so there is a personal family connection to the Japanese American artist who was born in Los Angeles as Sam Gilmour. He was the son of Leonie Gilmour and a Japanese poet named Yone Noguchi. Asian-caucasian marriages are completely routine in LA these days, but this was 1900, so there’s probably a story there. Anyway, if you live in SoCal or are visiting, the show, beautifully and dramatically mounted by Robert Wilson, is more than worth a visit. Much of the work are not the usual granite sculptures we associate with the sculptor, but wood pieces Noguchi designed for the stage, notably for the early dance performances of Martha Graham, like the photo to the left. [see correction in comments] The American Masters series says:

One of the early pieces of the [Graham] company was “Frontier” (1935), a solo performance about the pioneer woman. This piece brought together the two men who would be close collaborators throughout her life. Isamu Noguchi, the Japanese-American sculptor, created a sparse and beautiful design that replaced flat backdrops with three-dimensional objects. Together Graham and Noguchi revolutionized set design through this inclusion of sculpture.

The other man referred to is Aaron Copeland.