The Isamu Noguchi Catalogue Raisonné is an ongoing project of The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum and is committed to documenting the complete artistic practice of Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988). Presented as a digital publication in progress, The Isamu Noguchi Catalogue Raisonné includes the most current and comprehensive information about Noguchi’s artwork, exhibitions of his work, and bibliographic references related to his artistic practice. These and other resources are presented in a chronological and digitally linked format, in order to make the documented facts about aspects of the artist’s interdisciplinary and wide-ranging career accessible for researchers. As research for the project is completed, new updates of this publication will be made public on a regular basis.
The present digital publication of
The traditional printed-book format for a catalogue raisonné, however, meant that the 1980 publication had a limited audience, and that some information was necessarily out of date even by the time it reached the publisher. The nine years following the publication were among the most productive of Noguchi’s long career, and during this time his studio staff established a systematic inventory program for both these and other undocumented artworks. With Noguchi’s sudden death in December 1988, these efforts took on a new urgency. Continuing research and inventory efforts took place alongside new initiatives to document Noguchi’s studios in Long Island City, New York; in Mure, Japan; and in Pietrasanta, Italy.
By the early 1990s, many of the key figures who had worked most closely with Noguchi and his studios assumed new roles within The Isamu Noguchi Foundation, including Shoji Sadao as the Foundation’s Director, Bonnie Rychlak as Registrar, and Amy Hau as Archivist. During this period, the appraisal of the artist’s estate led to the documentation of certain previously unrecorded artworks, and the processing of Noguchi’s extensive archives was begun. Growing awareness of the scope and importance of the estate’s archival holdings, together with the increasingly detailed studio inventories, made clear the need to create a revised and comprehensive catalogue raisonné. With the support of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, research efforts continued throughout the decade, expanding to include the cataloguing of artworks outside of the Foundation’s own collection. Toward the end of the 1990s, Neil Printz joined the project as the first Catalogue raisonné Editor, working closely with Bonnie Rychlak. She later assumed the role of Managing Editor when Printz left the project.
Although the original plan for the next phase of the Catalogue Raisonné was as a multivolume traditional printed publication, as early as 2003, under the leadership of its new Director, Jenny Dixon, the Foundation began to reenvision The Isamu Noguchi Catalogue Raisonné as a digital publication. While digital publishing was then only beginning to gain acceptance within the scholarly community, the project recognized how well the new technology suited the interdisciplinary nature of Noguchi’s international practice, that it offered much greater accessibility, and that it would significantly accelerate the publication schedule for new and updated research. When the Foundation was rechartered as The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum in 2004, the Catalogue Raisonné remained central to its mandate. In 2007, the financial support of the Henry Luce Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts made possible the partial digitization of the Museum’s photography archives, thus providing additional momentum to the transition toward online publication.
First launched in 2011, the digital Isamu Noguchi Catalogue Raisonné is now the authoritative resource for research and general interest around Noguchi’s artistic practice. Shaina Larrivee, who joined the project in 2011 in the role of Project Manager, oversaw the initial launch of the dINCR, as well two subsequent updates to the site, in 2012 and 2015, both of which included significant amounts of new research. In 2014, Larrivee became Managing Editor of the project, and was succeeded by Alex Ross when he assumed the role in 2015. Also in 2015, a second generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation made possible the item-level cataloguing and digitization of the Museum’s archives. The scope of the grant also included the development of a customized database that has been designed to accommodate this significant amount of newly digitized material and to also make it accessible through the Museum’s redesigned website.
This larger redesign of the Museum’ archival research technology provided an opportunity to update and better integrate the dINCR into the Museum’s companion research resources. In the latest evolution of the dINCR project, completed research for various object, bibliographic, and exhibition entries has been linked to associated archival documentation held in The Noguchi Museum Archive. We believe this integration will deepen and enrich the site visitor’s experience and understanding of the history of an artwork as well as its context within Noguchi’s wider artistic practice. Importantly, the revised design of the dINCR will allow for a more agile approach to publishing updated information, even while research at the project is ongoing. With Noguchi’s career spanning more than six decades, and touching on so many different disciplines, dINCR research efforts tend to take place over many different areas simultaneously. New research and recent discoveries, as well as updates to current research, will be made available on a regular basis, thereby making the dINCR the most current and comprehensive source for understanding the artistic practice of Isamu Noguchi.
The continuing evolution of the dINCR parallels many of the larger interests and themes of Isamu Noguchi’s artistic practice. Throughout his long career, Noguchi continually challenged the traditional role sculpture played in our everyday lives, creating artwork across multiple disciplines and for multiple contexts that encompassed playgrounds, domestic furniture, and stage and costume design. Pursuing projects around the world, Noguchi adopted a transnational viewpoint, and aimed his work at the global community of humankind. A related and essential aspect of this worldview was his career-long interest in the innovation made possible through new materials and technologies. It is therefore only appropriate that the dINCR continue to evolve and to incorporate the best of developing technologies in order to reach the widest possible audience, and make accessible the complete range of Isamu Noguchi’s extraordinary artistic achievement.