a look into isamu noguchi's original tools: bridging eastern & western artistic influences

a look into isamu noguchi's original tools: bridging eastern & western artistic influences

Isamu Noguchi tools at Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum

 

Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum hosts ‘Isamu Noguchi TOOLS’ exhibition, offering a rare glimpse into Noguchi’s actual tools and evolving artistic process over time. On view until May 7, 2023, the display focuses on Noguchi’s hybrid approach to tools and materials, displaying fifty of his meticulously crafted tools from 1970 on loan from The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum in New York.

 

Isamu Noguchi was a prominent sculptor of the 20th century, renowned for his ability to work with a diverse range of materials, including wood, stone, metal, clay, and paper. His works were characterized by their unique blend of Eastern and Western artistic influences, as well as his innovative use of materials and form. As the child of a Japanese father and an American mother played a significant role in his journey as a tool user.

 

His interest in creative expression can be traced back to his childhood when he learned woodworking from a carpenter who was constructing his mother’s home in Chigasaki, named the ‘Triangular House’, using a set of Japanese carpentry tools. Later, while studying in Constantin Brâncuşi’s atelier, he was exposed to a different style of woodworking that further influenced his approach to tools and materials.

a look into isamu noguchi's original tools: bridging eastern & western artistic influences
all images by Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum © Isamu Noguchi

 

 

The Artistic Journey of Isamu Noguchi

 

Noguchi’s quest for mastery over stone eventually led him to establish his atelier in Mure Town, Kagawa Prefecture, where he could work with hard materials like granite and basalt using expert masonry techniques. Noguchi (see more here) combined tools from diverse material working traditions and different periods, ranging from traditional to high-tech. His studio in Japan, where he focused on working with stone and paper, is now preserved and showcases his various works, including his iconic ‘AKARI’ paper lantern sculptures.

 

Through the display of Noguchi’s actual tools, we will explore the close relationship between ‘materials’ and ‘techniques’ in the creation of his works. The exhibition looks into Noguchi’s artistic process and how his use of tools and materials evolved over time, revealing the intricate connection between his craft and his artistic vision.

 

The exhibition at Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum (more here) also comprises accompanying drawings created by Noguchi in the 1970s. In addition to the physical tools and drawings, it also includes a documentary film about the artist’s life and work, as well as photographs of his studio. These supplementary materials provide a more comprehensive insight into Noguchi’s creative vision and the legacy he left behind. Through his art, Noguchi invites us to appreciate the beauty and complexity of the tools we use in our daily lives and to recognize the role they play in shaping our world. a look into isamu noguchi's original tools: bridging eastern & western artistic influences

Tools For making, courtesy of Ozeki Co., Ltd.

a look into isamu noguchi's original tools: bridging eastern & western artistic influences
Saws used by Isamu Noguchi

a look into isamu noguchi's original tools: bridging eastern & western artistic influences
installation view

a look into isamu noguchi's original tools: bridging eastern & western artistic influences
installation view close up

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Masonry Tools used by Isamu Noguchi

a look into isamu noguchi's original tools: bridging eastern & western artistic influences
installation view, Light Sculpture

a look into isamu noguchi's original tools: bridging eastern & western artistic influences
Light Sculpture 

a look into isamu noguchi's original tools: bridging eastern & western artistic influences
French ‘Chemin de Fer’ file used during a stay in Paris

a look into isamu noguchi's original tools: bridging eastern & western artistic influences
Western-style woodworking tools (drawknife)

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Goggle worn during work

 

 

 

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Western-style woodworking tools (block plane) 8.
Western-style woodworking tools (block plane) 8.
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project info:

 

exhibition title: Isamu Noguchi TOOLS | @NoguchiMuseum

dates: March 4 – May 7, 2023 
venue: Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum 1F Hall | @takenakacarpentrytoolsmuseum
organizer: Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum / KOSMOS committee
supporter: Institut français du Japon / Kobe Shimbun
cooperation: The Isamu Noguchi Foundation of Japan, Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum Japan / The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York / Ozeki Co. Ltd. / Villa Kujoyama / Conde House

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