Monday, June 13, 2011

Isamu Noguchi

The much awaited installation of Isamu Noguchi's California Legacy finally opened to the public last Sunday at the Laguna Beach Art Museum. I even convinced Mr. R to come with me! We were very near the first in line for the curatorial walk-through, hoping to gain any tidbits of info about one of my design heroes. But sadly, I found the exhibit uninspired. I know Noguchi was very thoughtful about his sparse ideas, but I felt that this exhibit was lacking in showing us his inspiration, his passion or even a glimpse of what made him tick.

However, I did learn that he loved rocks out in Joshua Tree, and that his California Scenario was a true labor of love between he and developer, Henry Segerstrom. The two of them worked side by side to complete the sculpture garden that is now 30 years old. I used to take my kids there when they were little, but I must admit, I'm very overdue for my next visit.

This is the model Noguchi presented to Segerstrom to convince him to pay for the sculpture garden. He must have been some salesman!

Photo: The Noguchi Museum

Knowing small bits about his timeless furniture, his etherial lighting and his impressive rock sculpture, maybe my expectations were just too high. And although he was born in California, he did spend most of his time in New York when he was stateside, so his California legacy would undoubtably be limited.

What salvaged the installation for me, was the room devoted entirely to his lighting designs. It was stunning. The room was lit only by his creations, with no harsh light shining from above or below.  The effect was warm, lovely and meditative. I took these snaps, although I got scolded for it soon afterward.

Which leaves me to wonder why it's ok to take pictures in European museums, but not American. I figure, if I can take a picture of the Mona Lisa, at the Louve, why not Noguchi lights at LAM?

 If you miss LAM's installation of Noguchi's California Legacy, just get yourself over to the Costa Mesa and visit his California Scenario. Hopefully, you'll come away with reverence for this hero, Isamu Noguchi. 


  1. Beautiful lighting. What a shame you weren't excited by the exhibition? I was aware (as is everyone of Mr Noguchi's coffee table and his lights, but didn't know about the Californian garden). So, thank you, Mrs!

    I agree re photos! You're right ... if the mona lisa can stand it ... hoity-toities.

  2. i love his lamps! and everything else he touched. thanks for the preview! can't wait to see the exhibit!

  3. I would love to meet for coffee. Maybe @ Crystal Cove. I will try to message you.