Saturday, November 7, 2015

the last book I ever read (Listening to Stone: The Art and Life of Isamu Noguchi by Hayden Herrera, excerpt seven)

from Listening to Stone: The Art and Life of Isamu Noguchi by Hayden Herrera:

Although Noguchi enjoyed the high life as he courted rich patrons, he also witnessed the misery and humiliation of breadlines and tent communities in Central Park. Like many other artists and writers in the 1930s, he became politicized: “These contrasts of poverty and relative luxury made me more and more conscious of social injustice, and I soon had friends on the Left. But Left or Right, it was a communion with people that I was interested in.” He wanted to find a way to make abstract sculpture, “but I wanted other means of communication—to find a way of sculpture that was humanly meaningful without being realistic, at once abstract and socially relevant . . . My thoughts were born in despair, seeking stars in the night.”

Noguchi was determined to make sculpture part of lived experience, a shaping of a space: “In my efforts to go beyond what I then considered the entrapment of style in modern art and its isolation, I conceived of a Monument to the Plow,” This huge earthwork was to be “a triangular pyramid 12,000 feet at base—slopes 8 degrees to 10 degrees to horizontal—made of earth on one side, tilled in furrows radiating from base corner—one side planted to wheat and a third side half tilled soil with furrows radiating from apex and half-barren, uncultivated soil.” The plow at the top of the pyramid would be a “symbol of agriculture.” Noguchi hoped that Edward Rumely, who had contacts with John Deere, might be able to persuade the company to build his monument. He proposed that it be built “in the middle of the West Prairie,” or somewhere in Oklahoma. “But I was a little ahead of the time.”

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