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Changing and Unchanging Things: Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan at The Noguchi Museum, May 1 – July 14, 2019

“The Noguchi Museum presents Changing and Unchanging Things: Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan, a major traveling exhibition that focuses on the brief yet consequential friendship between artists Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) and Saburo Hasegawa (1906– 1957), the first in a long line of brilliant friends, teachers, and collaborators who helped Noguchi access and assimilate his Japanese heritage after World War II. Comprising approximately 90 works by Noguchi and Hasegawa, the exhibition traces the time these mid-career artists spent together, examining the profound mutual impact that they had on each other’s work. The exhibition will reintroduce Hasegawa, once well known in the United States, especially among the Abstract Expressionists, yet now nearly unheard of. His reinsertion into the history of twentieth-century abstraction is long overdue and an important part of the ongoing diversification of the canon.” — The Noguchi Museum

Photographs by Corrado Serra.

Noguchi Museum Director Brett Littman states, “The Noguchi Museum is dedicated to exploring not only Noguchi’s work, but also the context in which it was created and its legacy. Changing and Unchanging Things shines a light on a critically important time in Noguchi’s life, when, with Hasegawa’s guidance, he set out to explore his biculturalism and how he could use it to create something contemporary and global—as his Romanian mentor Constantin Brancusi had—from something deep, specific, and local. We are delighted to advance awareness of the contribution these two artists made to the articulation of transcultural understanding and artmaking.”

Mr. Hart added, “This exhibition is about what Noguchi, explaining his Akari lanterns, called ‘the true development of an old tradition,’ that is, his conviction, which Hasegawa shared, that Japan’s future as a global citizen lay not in abandoning its past, but in organically contemporizing its extraordinary craft cultures from within. This led Noguchi to make monumental origami using industrial bending equipment from sheets of aluminum given to him by Alcoa; to create light sculptures by electrifying the traditional Japanese paper lantern and then bringing a genetic engineer’s mentality to the evolution of its shape; to invent the non-functional Japanese ceramic; to make ‘somewhat Japanese’ garden-like environments infused with Western civic values; and finally to capture the at once cosmic and grounded feelings of connectedness he found in Japan in awesomely timeless stone sculptures.”

Organized by The Noguchi Museum, Changing and Unchanging Things: Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan is curated by Dakin Hart, Senior Curator at The Noguchi Museum, and Mark Dean Johnson, Professor at San Francisco State University.

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