Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) was a Japanese American artist and lanscape architect whose career lasted sixty years. The work of Isamu Noguchi can be used to illustrate the transition in public art over the past decade from a preponderance of monumental, abstract, freestanding sculptures to a preponderance of environment l projects. Over the years, Noguchi was the recipient of numerous commissions, both public and private; they were awarded both for environmental designs and for discrete sculptural objects. Among the former are the projects for Chase Manhattan Bank and Yale University mentioned in chapter three. Noguchi also created a play environment in Piedmont Park. The city provided a site within the park that was in need of restoration and secured an Art in Public Places grant. Under a ring of mature oak trees, Noguchi arrayed a group of brightly colored, sturdy play shapes – including slides, swings, cubes, mounds and several structures for climbing. It is in Detroit that Noguchi’s talents in environmental design received their fullest expression design received their fullest expression. In Detroit he developed the a fountain design and submitted it with some suggestions for adjusting the plaza plans to better accommodate his fountain. His suggestions fell on receptive ears, and he was taken on to reform the entire eight-acre site. Few artists have received the number of commissions or the broad mandate accorded to Noguchi. One of his greatest accomplishments was producing a catalog containing the most influential body of modern furniture, including the Noguchi table. His work lives on around the world and at the Noguchi Museum in New York.

Floating Fountains


Red Cube Sculpture

Piedmont Park




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