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Noguchi sculptures on view at Cantor Arts Center

East and West, old and new, traditional and modern, geometric and organic, figuration and abstraction are just a few of the opposites sculptor Isamu Noguchi was adept at harmonizing.

Thanks to a three-year loan from the Isamu Noguchi Foundation in Long Island City, N.Y., five outdoor sculptures by the artist are now on view at the Cantor Center for Visual Arts. The works, which date from the 1960s through the 1980s, are characteristic of the diverse media and techniques Noguchi used during his career.

The sculptures have been installed in the 4,000-square-foot courtyard between the original museum building and the center's new wing. The loan is made possible by a grant from the Museum Loan Network, with additional support provided by the Cowles Charitable Trust.

To complement the installation, the center will feature a half-day symposium, "Isamu Noguchi: Contrast and Harmony," at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 13. Speakers will include Bruce Altshuler, formerly curator of collections at the Isamu Noguchi Foundation, Inc., and now director of studies at Christie's Education, New York; Lucio Ruotolo, professor emeritus of English; and E. Marc Treib, professor of architecture at the University of California-Berkeley. The symposium is free and open to the public.

The five new Noguchi works include This Earth, This Passage, 1962, a bronze sculpture that the artist conceived when he studied Japanese pottery in the early 1930s. It originally was made from clay that Noguchi worked with his feet, and is characteristic of his sculptures that "emerge" from the ground.

In Silence Walking, 1970, a gray Bardiglio marble, is one of Noguchi's earliest articulations of void and emptiness, a subject he explored frequently.

Then there's the biomorphic Little Id, 1971, a whimsical marble whose shape alludes to male anatomy. It was fabricated by post-and-tension construction, a system in which the marble elements are threaded along a rod and tightened, with the continuous tension on the rod giving the sculpture its strength.

The polished stainless surface of Sentinel, 1973 glistens as the sculpture suggests an alert watcher, a portal and the form of a lock.

Finally, the bronze work Rain Mountain, 198284 features the interlocking vertical and horizontal elements that Noguchi introduced into sculptors' vocabulary.

Doris and Donald Fisher also are lending the Cantor Center an early surrealistic sculpture in bronze by Noguchi, Cronos, 1947. With its rocklike and sickle-shaped forms, it recalls works by artists such as the surrealist Yves Tanguy. It will be displayed adjacent to the outdoor courtyard in the center's Meier Family Galleria.

Noguchi was one of the most original artists of the 20th century and a sculptor whose works defy categorization. Born in Los Angeles in 1904, to a Japanese father and American mother, he was schooled in Japan and Indiana. In the mid-1920s he enrolled at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School on New York's Lower East Side, where he studied with Onorio Ruotolo, who was known as the "Rodin of Little Italy." While on a Guggenheim Fellowship in Paris in 1926, Noguchi met the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi, with whom he worked as a studio assistant. On subsequent trips to the Far East in the 1930s, Noguchi studied traditional arts and crafts such as calligraphy, garden design and pottery. Until his death in 1988, Noguchi was a citizen of the world, enjoying success as a sculptor, landscape architect and theater designer.

Noguchi was particularly sensitive to the relationship between art and the natural environment, and the works on display in the center's courtyard, which is complemented by natural plantings, reinforce the center's aims to bring together works of various regions and periods East and West, traditional and modern.

While these Noguchi works are on loan at Stanford, "The Public and Private Worlds of Isamu Noguchi," an exhibition of the sculptor's models for completed public art projects and a selection of his sculptures, will be on view in the library at the University of California-San Francisco at 530 Parnassus St., beginning Nov. 1.

The Museum Loan Network (MLN) the first comprehensive national collection-sharing program stimulates, facilitates and funds long-term loans of art among U.S. institutions to enhance museums' permanent installations. The MLN's program consists of an illustrated online database that includes objects available for long-term loan by museums around the country and a grant program that helps with loans between institutions. Launched in 1995, the MLN is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts, which conceived and initiated the program, and is administered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Office of the Arts.



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