Changing and Unchanging Things: Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan

When 27 Sep 2019 - 8 Dec 2019
Where Asian Art Museum
200 Larkin St
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States
Enquiry 415.581.3500

Changing and Unchanging Things: Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan considers the consequential friendship of two artists, one Japanese American but drawn to Japan, the other Japanese but influenced by the West, both in search of a new direction for modern art in the aftermath of the Second World War.

U.S.-born sculptor and designer Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) and Japanese painter, theorist and teacher Saburo Hasegawa(1906–1957) both reacted to the catastrophic effects of the war by questioning how art could balance tradition and modernity, Japanese culture and foreign influences, past and present. They were both committed to modernist practices, such as the removal of the inessential, truth to materials and a utopian belief of the power of art to improve society, but felt that modernism needed a new direction, one that could be provided by a deep exploration of Japanese art and design. Together, they visited historic gardens, palaces and temples around Kyoto to immerse themselves in traditional Japanese culture.

The exhibition traces the work, ideas and mutual influence of these two artists, one well known and the other little known outside Japan but who had strong ties to San Francisco. Focusing on work made in the decade following their meeting in 1950, the exhibition is organized around a series of themes that bring out the resonances between Noguchi’s sculptures and design work and Hasegawa’s explorations in painting, printmaking and photography. Situating the work of both artists side by side forcefully reveals their innovative fusion of Japanese tradition and modernist form and shared aesthetic sensibilities.

Image: Hasegawa and Noguchi on the veranda at Shishendo Temple, Kyoto, photographed by Michio Noguchi, 1950. © The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York / ARS

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