Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Noguchi Museum Miscellany


These are some of the other works that caught my eye at the Noguchi Museum. He worked in an impressive variety of styles and stone, with interesting variations within each style, and it was great seeing them together in one museum, seeing the continuity and the juxtapositions. In the last post, I showed some of the large basalts which were mostly concentrated in the first room of the museum. These other ground floor rooms hold work from a broader selection of time periods, styles, and types of stone. There’s also a room upstairs with works that are generally smaller in scale and feel more domestic.


These polished marble works use a tensioned cable on the inside to hold them together. If you click on the photo above, you can faintly see that the weird, striped, bone-shaped sculpture has a stone plug filling the access hole for the cable.


The floor pieces are some of my favorites. I love the one below, Another Land. A similar one titled This Place is also in this style.


More photos are below.


The one above is another favorite, a work for the tabletop rather than the floor; it’s only about 18″ by 18″. I would like to see a larger version set in a landscape.



An interesting vignette with the tensioned marble.


He made a lot of odd tables that he called landscapes — the one below is literally titled Landscape Sculpture — which sort of makes sense if you think of them as a modernist interpretation of suiseki, but mostly they look like odd tables. I like them and would have happily brought one home if they’d been sold in the gift shop.



Double Red Mountain is the most clearly evocative of a landscape for me.


His Water Table is another favorite, an interpretation of a chozubachi.


With this one, Entasis of a Pentagonal Helix, I needed to go deep into my architecture vocabulary to remember that entasis is the tapering of a Greek column. This would be awesome installed as the column for a temple or tea house.


These little basalts are made from the waste cores leftover from drilling holes in larger basalts.



A number of pieces have wooden pedestals. I usually don’t like when stone is placed on wood, but these are surprisingly effective.



The torso has a wonderful use of texture. A few Noguchi pieces look unfinished to me, but I think this one is perfect, especially after comparing it with a photo from before he polished it.


A metal piece with a cast shadow shows the influence of his work as a set designer.


The one above looks like metal but is actually slate, made fairly early in his career. He also made them in wood and metal, but they’re more remarkable when done in stone. I wish there’s been more of them on display.


He took some of his models for proposed landscape designs and cast them in bronze and hung them as wall pieces. Again, surprisingly effective. I can’t think of anyone else who has done this. It seems like something Burle Marx should have done but never did.


These are also models, made for a slide he designed and eventually saw built a couple of times.


The piece of obsidian suspended in the box is a musical instrument to play with the little mallet. Another visitor at the museum took a video of me playing, but I was too shy about my musical ability to record myself, silly me. You can hear someone else tap on it here.


And all this is just a selection. It’s a great museum, powerful and unique; I can’t overstate how much I enjoyed it. He was one of the 20th century’s masters of stone.

Leave a Reply