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About the Catalogue

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.

History

The present digital publication of The Isamu Noguchi Catalogue Raisonné (dINCR), is the result of many decades of research into documenting the artwork produced by Isamu Noguchi during his long and remarkable career. As early as the 1950s, Noguchi and his studio began a concerted effort to create general listings of his artworks, including the titles, dates, materials, and sizes of artworks, also noting who owned the artwork at that time. A more focused research initiative into Noguchi’s artistic practice began in the mid-1970s, at which time the artist was still actively producing artworks in his studios across three continents. In 1980, these research efforts culminated in the publication of The Sculpture of Isamu Noguchi, 1904–1979: A Catalogue (Garland, 1980), by Nancy Grove and Diane Botnick. For several decades following its publication, this meticulously researched volume, which was compiled in consultation with the artist himself, remained the most comprehensive listing documenting Noguchi’s artistic practice. In fact, Grove and Botnick’s impressive achievement continues to form an essential point of reference for much of the continuing research of the current project.

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raisonné, however, meant that the 1980 publication had a limited audience, and that some information was necessarily out of date even by the time it reached the publisher.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.

Special notes to the 2019 Edition

There are two updates to the 2015 edition of the dINCR that appear in the 2019 edition.

In the November 2019 update, particular focus has been made on Noguchi’s artworks and exhibitions made during the 1920s and 1930s. Users may notice some changes to the numbering of certain artworks. Research into contemporary documentary sources and the identification and cataloging of certain early works from this period have justified a reconsideration of how some works have been numbered and grouped. We have returned to the original numbers assigned in Grove/Botnick, and integrated later additions within the order and numbering of these first twenty-five entries.

This latest update also includes considerable focused research about Noguchi’s earliest exhibitions, also from the 1920s and 1930s. While we have been able to confirm much of the research on many of these exhibitions through the archives of galleries and museums, or through exhibition reviews in contemporary journals, we recognize that much of the documentation of other exhibitions seems not to have survived. In these rare cases, in order to make the information we do have for these exhibitions available to dINCR users, we have designated these entries as as “Research Suspended,” and published them in an incomplete state with notes as to what we know and what remains in question. At such time as new information comes to our attention, we will reopen our research on that particular exhibition entry.

Content and scope

Presently, the content of the dINCR includes a combination of finalized entries (identified as “published”) for which research has been completed, and temporary entries (identified as “research pending”) for which research is ongoing or incomplete at the time of publication. These two categories of entries represent the majority of The Isamu Noguchi Catalogue Raisonné project’s scope of research. For more detailed information about artworks being researched for the dINCR, please review the project’s “Qualifications for Inclusion.”

Publication Schedule

As research progresses, new and updated cataloging around artworks, exhibitions, and bibliographic references will be added to the site on a regular basis.

Subject to Change

While the dINCR project makes every effort to ensure that information provided is accurate and complete at the time of publication, the ongoing nature of our research necessitates that information in all areas of the publication is subject to change when new documentation comes to our attention. When changes to an entry are made, the nature and reason for these revisions may be noted and dated. Importantly, content may be added to or removed from the digital publication at any time in accordance with the project’s Qualifications for Inclusion. For more information, please review the publications Terms and Conditions of Use.

Published Entries

Artwork, exhibition, and bibliographic entries categorized as “published” provide the completed cataloging for a given record. This information has been verified as accurate at the date of publication indicated at the bottom of each record.

Research Pending Entries

Artwork, exhibition, and bibliographic entries categorized as “research pending” provide partial information on a given record for which research is currently ongoing, outstanding, or otherwise incomplete. “Research pending” entries represent anticipated content of the dINCR, but do not constitute a guarantee for inclusion in future editions of the publication.

Research Suspended Entries

As of the 2019 update to the dINCR, certain exhibition records have been categorized as “research suspended.” While every effort has been made to confirm the details related to these earliest exhibitions of Noguchi’s art, we recognize that many exhibitions mounted during the first half of the 20th century were not extensively documented, and that some of this scant information has not survived. While the digitization of outside archives is ongoing, and new information on these exhibitions might eventually come to light, for certain exhibition records, we have chosen to make our research available even while not all the facts around the exhibition are confirmed, and have provided a short explanation of what questions remain open. Should the Project become aware of new evidence or facts about one of these exhibitions, this exhibition entry will be reviewed.

Searching and Browsing

Searching and browsing within the dINCR are limited to information currently available to the public.

Important Information for Collectors and Collection Managers:

The Isamu Noguchi Catalogue Raisonné depends on the assistance and collaboration of collectors and institutions around the world, in order to identify and locate artworks, and to finalize research and cataloging around Noguchi’s artistic practice. We invite both private collectors and institutional collection managers to contact the dINCR through the Noguchi Museum or via email at catalogue@noguchi.org.

The Isamu Noguchi Catalogue Raisonné project is committed to the privacy of collectors. We hold all collector information in the strictest confidence, and use such information only with the permission of that collector, and only according to their instructions.

Please note: The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum does not authenticate, or offer opinions either way as to the attribution of an art object.

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Isamu Noguchi Collection, Catalogue Raisonné, and Archive Terms & Conditions

Documents, photographs, artwork, and other materials held by The Noguchi Museum are protected by copyright and require permission for use. By accessing the digital collections of The Noguchi Museum, you accept and acknowledge the terms set forth in our Terms & Conditions. Any unauthorized usage of materials accessed from The Noguchi Museum's digital collections is strictly prohibited.