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Ordering and Numbering System

Current artwork numbers are based on the catalogue numbers first assigned to objects in The Sculpture of Isamu Noguchi, 1924–1979: A Catalogue by Nancy Grove and Diane Botnick (Garland, 1980), originally 1–820, and ordered chronologically. Artworks created after the publication of the Grove/Botnick catalogue are assigned a number above 820. Sculptures discovered after the publication of Grove/Botnick, but dated prior to 1979, are generally incorporated into the standing chronological order by the assignment of an existing number with the addition of the suffix “.01,” “.02,” “.03,” etc. For example no. 135 is a portrait work dating from 1934 that was included in Grove/Botnick, while no. 135.01, also a portrait work dating from 1934, was identified after the publication of Grove/Botnick.

Artwork entries are generally ordered chronologically by the year the work was begun; within each year artworks may be ordered according to material, subject, or style. Exceptions to this ordering include drawings, models, and select sculptures that were not included in Grove/Botnick and were catalogued en masse following Noguchi’s death. These artworks are assigned numbers between 2,000 and 9,000, irrespective of date. For example, drawings in the collection of The Isamu Noguchi Foundation inventories in the 1990s were assigned sequential numbers beginning with 7,000. Additionally, artworks for which new date information has emerged since 1980 maintain their original number and place in the order.

Artworks that are directly related share a number followed by an alphabetical or numerical suffix, and are grouped together chronologically with the primary or earliest known example in the series. For example, no. 498 is assigned to a 1962 balsa wood sculpture, which was cast in bronze editions between 1962 and 1988, nos. 498B-1/8, 498B-2/8, etc. The letters A, B, C, etc., denote different versions in style or materials; fractions identify edition series numbers (e.g., 1/3 means 1 of 3); lowercase letters often denote a classification, such as “m” for models; numbers after a dash are assigned to relational elements of a whole. For example, while no. 139 is a complete dance set, nos. 139-1 and 139-2 are the two elements that make up the set.


The Isamu Noguchi Catalogue Raisonné aims to provide high-quality photographs of all artworks for reference purposes, including primary and alternative views, historical photographs, and situational photography from studio and exhibitions records. Extant photographs of exhibitions are also provided with corresponding exhibitions entries.

While every effort has been made to obtain high-quality photographs of each artwork, low-quality photographs may be provided if these are the only ones available, or if they are of special significance to the understanding of the particular artwork. If no presentable photograph is available for a given artwork, this is indicated by a gray box in place of an image. As new images are obtained, they will be added to the entry for the artwork.


Titles are presented as designated by Noguchi in the artist’s records, publications during his lifetime, and/or exhibition checklists. Multiple titles are given for artworks that were assigned more than one active title. Up to three titles may also be given in circumstances where an artwork’s public title changed over time, with the most recent title offered first. In other instances, title variations instead may be indicated in the comments section. Additionally, errors in titles that have appeared in previous publications, such as misspelled names of portrait sitters, have been corrected rather than maintained.

Noguchi generally titled his artworks in English. However, some artworks were originally given Japanese titles that were later translated into English. This is particularly common in the case of ceramics Noguchi made in Japan in 1952. In these instances, the English title is provided as the primary title, and the Japanese title is provided as the secondary title in Romaji. For example, a ceramic sculpture now known as Fish was initially exhibited in Japan as Sakana. In cases where the original Japanese title translated to something different from the English title, the translation is provided in parentheses. For example, a ceramic sculpture now known as Dog was initially exhibited in Japan as Hoette iru inu (Barking dog).

If no evidence of an assigned title is available, artworks are left untitled, or given a descriptive name if necessary to distinguish the artwork or identify it within a series.


Dates are given by year or years for each artwork from the point the artwork was begun or presumed to have been begun, and completed or presumed to have been completed. When an artwork was begun and completed within one year, that year is given. When an artwork was begun one year and completed another year, the range of years is given. When an artwork is thought to have been completed within one year, with no definitive evidence, that year is preceded by “circa,” abbreviated as “c.” When an artwork is thought to have been completed in one year or another, with no definitive evidence, a range of years is given preceded by “c.”

Many examples of editioned artworks have previously been dated as the original or prototype. In this publication, both the date of the original concept and the example’s date of construction are given. For instance, a 1964 cast of a 1945 sculpture has appeared in other publications dated 1945 or 1945–64, but here is dated 1945 (cast 1964). Such works appear chronologically in the list of artworks according to the earlier concept date.


All materials involved in the composition of an artwork are generally listed in descending order from the primary material. Material type is provided to the highest level of determinable specificity. However, in some cases this is limited by the availability of geological surveys or other laboratory work. In these cases, materials are listed in broader terms.

In the case of some marbles, granites, clays, and glazes, the material’s regional source is given to further specify the material type. Often, this is as specified by Noguchi; deference is given to the artist’s description of material over formal geological terms, occasionally extending to the inclusion of unconfirmed or unknown regional descriptions or materials.


Dimensions appear in inches, followed by centimeter equivalents, in order of height, width, and depth. Measurements are taken in inches, generally to the closest 1/8 inch (occasionally to within 1/16 inch for very small works, or ½ of an inch for very large works). Width is determined by establishing either the front of the sculpture or the widest point; depth is taken at 90 degrees from the established width. Diameter is given in two measurements, as both width and depth. For example, a vertical cylinder with a diameter of 8 inches and a height of 3 inches would appear as 3 x 8 x 8 in.

Measurements are given for the overall size of the artwork as assembled and installed, inclusive of all attached elements. For artworks with separate relational elements, dimensions are given for each element in the composition. Measurements for bases are given separately and are not included in the overall size of the artwork.

Bases and Supports

A base is identified as a detachable structure used for the artwork’s presentation. It is essential to the presentation of the artwork but is not an integral part of the artwork’s composition or essential to the original concept of the work. Integral and essential supports are defined as “elements” of the artwork.

Materials and dimensions of bases are provided. Bases cited are limited to those that were constructed, commissioned, or chosen by Noguchi. Pedestals, frames, mats, and other interchangeable means of display and support, are generally not cited.


Noguchi inscribed and signed his name in a variety of styles that evolved, changed, and overlapped throughout his career. How and where an inscription or signature appears on an artwork is described through text as precisely as possible. In cases where Noguchi used non-Roman characters to indicate authorship, the mark may be described or indicated by a symbol. Most commonly, readers may find the Hiragana の (no) or a bisected circle to represent these symbols appearing on the artwork. Foundry marks or other tags related to the artwork’s construction or history may also be noted. If no signature or inscription exists on the artwork, “Not inscribed” is indicated. In rare cases where the examination of the artwork cannot determine the presence or lack of a signature due to the artwork’s present installation or state, “Unconfirmed” is indicated.

Signatures and inscriptions are described along with their relative location on the artwork. Artworks for which a proper “front” is not established may note an inscription on the artwork’s “back” or otherwise. In these cases, the location is reflective of how the artwork was measured, and is not intended to define a formal orientation for the work.

Occasionally, dates and edition numbers inscribed on the work may not match the information provided elsewhere in the entry for an artwork. Several examples have been found where the information inscribed is known to be incorrect; for example, in one edition run of six, two bronzes are inscribed 4/6, while none are inscribed 6/6. Information may be provided in the comments section to elaborate on these inconsistencies as they appear.


An artwork’s place within a larger series of related works is noted, including editions (copies) and versions (minor variations on a theme). Version series include multiple renderings of the same form created manually (i.e., not cast), as in two portraits created of the same sitter. Edition series often include an original artwork from which a cast was made; copies cast through a mold process, most often in bronze, terra-cotta, or plaster; artist’s proofs (APs), working proofs (WPs) and artist’s copies (ACs), made before, during, or after the casting process; and derivative copies of an original not made through the process of casting, but rather via manual construction. Occasionally, there may exist no evidence of an original version from which casts were created having been maintained by the artist; the original is therefore considered “discarded” and not noted in the edition series or included in the publication.

When an edition number has been assigned to an artwork by Noguchi and/or the work’s fabricator, this is indicated (e.g. “Number 7 from an edition of 8”); when no number has been assigned, only the size of the series may be indicated (e.g., “One of 2 from an unnumbered edition”). Occasionally, edition numbers inscribed on an artwork are known to be incorrect; for example, in one edition run of six casts, two bronzes are inscribed 4/6, and none 6/6. Therefore, one of the examples inscribed 4/6 is described as example 6 of six casts. Information may be provided in the comments section to elaborate on these inconsistencies.

Fabricators and Collaborators

Individuals or groups involved with Noguchi in the creation of an artwork may be credited with their role, including foundries for cast sculptures, manufacturers for designed works, partnering architects, and commissioners for projects. As Noguchi often worked with many individuals and companies in the creation of sculptures, designs, and projects, the inclusion of collaborators is generally limited to the categories listed above, and may not include staff members of Noguchi’s studios, consultants, funding individuals or organizations, etc.

Descriptions and Comments

Descriptions may be provided to elaborate on the qualities and state of the artwork, such as “unrealized model.” Comments may be provided to elaborate on historical or other significant attributes of the artwork that have not been provided in other fields. Descriptions and comments are not interpretive, but rather are limited to factual and contextual information.

Current Collection and Provenance

The most comprehensive and accurate account of an artwork’s current ownership and provenance at the time of the publication is provided, and, if known, may include the year and method of acquisition.

Collection credits and provenance notations are provided as stipulated by the artwork’s current and past owners at the time of publication. Individual collectors who have indicated their desire to be unnamed are listed as “Private collection.” Collectors who have not indicated a preferred credit are also listed as “private collection.” Artworks that have been determined lost or destroyed are listed as such in place of ownership. Works for which no current location has been determined at the end of the project’s research will be published with “Whereabouts unknown” listed in place of ownership.

Provenance is listed from the first known owner through the current collection. Whereas Noguchi was generally the first owner of each artwork, the artist is not listed in the provenance unless the work was reacquired from an outside owner prior to the establishment of The Isamu Noguchi Foundation in 1980. Artworks in Noguchi’s possession that had not been transferred to the Foundation at the time of the artist’s death in 1988 will list “Estate of the artist” in the provenance. Auctions and galleries, while seldom owners of a work per se, are generally included in the provenance in order to distinguish artworks that consistently remain in unidentified private collections. If a work was part of a collection that changed names during ownership, separate entries are given for each name. For example, works acquired by The Isamu Noguchi Foundation (INF), and currently in the same collection, known as The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum (INFGM as of 2004), include INF in the provenance, while citing separately the INFGM as the current collection.

Associated Artworks

Artworks that are directly related are linked in either “parent-child” or “see-also” style relationships. Parent-child relationships include the relationship of an original artwork to its casts or subsequent versions; realized projects or sculptures to preparatory work; and environments to their relational elements. “See-also” relationships include, for example, the relationship of one artwork with a particular style or theme to another artwork with a similar style or theme, or of one cast from a series to another cast from the same series.

Exhibitions and Publications

A published artwork entry may include links to exhibitions in which it was included, and to literature in which it was cited. However, these lists are subject to change as new research on exhibitions and bibliography is finalized. Therefore, a published artwork’s entry’s exhibition history and bibliography should not necessarily be interpreted as finalized at this time.


The list of exhibitions for an artwork entry includes solo and group exhibitions in which a particular work has been featured, and is ordered chronologically from oldest to newest. Title, venue, and dates, including travel venues and dates, are provided. The checklist of artworks is based on historical checklists, and/or when none are available, research on extant correspondence and photography. Uncertainties are noted in the comments section.

For exhibitions that have traveled to multiple venues, the first venue or organizing institution is listed as the primary venue, and separate entries for each venue that exhibition is known to have traveled to have been created. The date provided reflects the opening and closing dates for each venue. While exact checklists of artworks may change from venue to venue, the artworks listed indicate our best understanding of which works have been exhibited at each venue.

While every effort is made to ensure exact checklists, in the case of artworks with multiple versions or editions, and especially in the case of early exhibitions during the 1920s and 1930s, it may be impossible to identify which version or example for the edition was shown in a particular exhibition or exhibition venue. In these cases, the “first” example in the series is included in the checklist of artworks, with notations made in the comments section. For example, if one cast from an edition of three is known to have been exhibited, but with no evidence of the exact example shown, version 1/3 is cited by default, pending new evidence.

Additional venues and dates are subsequently provided. An exhibition that included an artwork that is part of an edition series is listed only with the example that was shown, rather than with each work from the series. For example, if cast number 1 from an edition of three was exhibited, that exhibition appears only with the entry for 1/3, and not with the entries for 2/3 and 3/3.

The publication of an exhibition catalogue, pamphlet, or other listing is indicated by a link to the corresponding bibliography entry.


The bibliography for an artwork entry includes books, essays, newspaper and journal articles, exhibition catalogues, monographs, and other writings in which the work has been cited and/or illustrated. Page numbers, catalogue numbers, and illustration numbers are also noted. Bibliographic entries are ordered in chronological order from the oldest to the newest, and include both writings by and about Isamu Noguchi.

Literature that cites or depicts an artwork that is part of an edition series is listed only with the example cited or illustrated, rather than with each example from the series. For example, if cast number 1 from an edition of three was cited, that publication appears only with the entry for 1/3, and not with the entries for 2/3 and 3/3.

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