The work of one of the twentieth century’s most important sculptors, Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) – also famous for his iconic furniture (which has become short hand for good taste), lighting, ceramics, architecture and set designs for dancer Martha Graham – has been photographed by artist Leah Raintree for her project Another Land: After Noguchi, on show now at the Noguchi Museum, until Jan 2017. In it, Raintree creates her own version of astrophotography by rendering Noguchi’s work as distant microcosms in space.
World Space Week seemed the right time to take a virtual tour of the project…
The seeds of Raintree’s project took shape when she was working at the Socrates Sculpture Park, which is close to the Noguchi Museum in Queens, New York. Inspired by the European Space Agency’s study of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko – and in particular the photographs taken by the Rosetta space probe on its approach to 67P – the artist shot a small granite stone at the center of the gallery, reimagining it as an asteroid. She took this concept to the museum’s collection where she discovered an affinity with the great American-Japanese designer. His stone sculptures celebrate the qualities of rock, enhancing rather than shying away from fractures and imperfections that seem to show the geological passage of time – an ideal basis for Raintree’s obfuscating gaze.
It’s clever lighting and framing that turns each of the sculptures shot into distant celestial objects or uncharted landscapes and the project seems like a fitting homage to Isamu Noguchi, who once said “Everything is sculpture.”