the akari light sculpture of isamu noguchi ...........................................................................................................................................................................

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the akari light sculpture of isamu noguchi


akari light sculptures by isamu noguchi are
considered icons of 1950s modern design.
noguchi sketched the first of his most well-known
works of this kind -- the mulberry paper and bamboo
lamps in 1951.
handmade for a half century by the original
manufacturer in gifu, japan, the paper lanterns are a
harmonious blend of japanese handcraft and modernist
form.
as light sculptures akari develop the sculptural use of
illumination that noguchi had first proposed in 1933 for
his unrealized 'musical weathervane', and that he had
brought to fruition with his 'lunar' sculptures and interiors
during the next decade.
as home furnishings akari extend the domestic application
of sculptural principles that noguchi had advanced with
his biomorphic furniture of the 1940s.
the shades are made of handmade washi paper and bamboo
ribbing.


noguchi on akari

'my other preoccupation at this time (1952) was the
development of akari, the new use of lanterns that I had
conceived on my previous trip.
it was a logical convergence of my long interest in light
sculptures, lunars, and my being in japan.
paper and bamboo fitted in with my feeling for the quality
and sensibility of light.
its very lightness questions materiality, and is consonant
with our appreciation today of the less thingness of things,
the less encumbered perceptions.

the name akari which I coined, means in japanese 'light'
as illumination.
it also suggests lightness as opposed to weight.
the ideograph combines that of the sun and moon.
the ideal of akari is exemplified with lightness (as essence)
and light (for awareness).
the quality is poetic, ephemeral, and tentative.

looking more fragile than they are akari seem to float,
casting their light as in passing.
they do not encumber our space as mass or as a
possession; if they hardly exist in use, when not in use they
fold away in an envelope.
they perch light as a feather, some pinned to the wall,
others clipped to a cord, and all may be moved with the
thought.

intrinsic to such other qualities are handmade papers
and the skills that go with lantern making.
I believe akari to be a true development of an old tradition.
the qualities that have been sought are those that were
inherent to it, not as something oriental but as something
we need. the superficial shapes or functions may be imitated,
but not these qualities.'
http://www.akari.co.jp


/ see noguchi's exhibition





/ see noguchi's biography





/ see noguchi's furniture

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isamu noguchi at long island city studio
with akari sculptures, 1960s.
© isamu noguchi foundation inc, new york
courtesy designmuseum , london



akari lamps
© twentytwentyone / wohnebedarf
courtesy designmuseum, london



early promotional photograph of akari,1950's
© isamu noguchi foundation inc, new york



akari light sculpture
isamu noguchi foundation inc, new york



akari light sculpture
isamu noguchi foundation inc, new york