Isamu Noguchi Research Report

Essay by sympathysCollege, UndergraduateA, June 2013

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Noguchi's Fountain

For this assignment I chose the full-round functional sculpture Fountain by Isamu Noguchi located in the Noguchi Sculpture Court of the Nelson-Atkins Museum. One might be surprised to know that the Nelson-Atkins Museum actually exhibits the largest number of Noguchi sculptures in a public setting outside the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Museum in New York City. Whenever one visits the Noguchi Sculpture court, it is natural to sit on a nearby bench and observe the reactions of the other museum patrons as they enter the tranquil domain. One can see the calming influence that washes over the faces of those who make the time to slow down and take in the full experience. The calming and relaxing environment draws people in and beckons a contemplative mood.

The focal object in the Noguchi Sculpture Court is a piece that Isamu Noguchi completed in 1987, simply called Fountain. This piece is appealing to me because it has a serene, Zen aesthetic to it.

Fountain is composed of two large and extremely heavy basalt stones of roughly the same size, but differing in aspects of form. There are varying textures in this piece, and it requires careful study to discern them all. Upon closer inspection, one can deduce that the top surface of one stone is concave with rough-hewn sides, while the top of the other stone is convex with glossy smooth sides. Both of the stones have cool-looking water flowing wondrously up from their interiors, gathering in a still pool at the tops of each, then cascading gently over the sides of the stones coating them like a second skin. The water deepens the stones' color and creates a meditative gurgling sound as it trickles over a bed of white river rocks below, while also reflecting the...