Isamu Noguchi


Honorary Degree (1971)
Doctor of Fine Arts
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Joseph Sutton


Isamu Noguchi was born in Los Angeles but spent his boyhood in Japan. At age 13, he was sent to the United States to continue his education at an Indiana high school and at Columbia University, where he was a pre-medical student. Returning to an earlier ambition, Noguchi studied sculpture first under Gutzon Borglum, then at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School. For two years he worked as Brancusi's assistant in Paris on a Guggenheim Fellowship, Brancusi becoming his acknowledged master, after which he studied drawing in Peking, China. Noguchi has worked in London, Mexico, New York, and Hawaii. His relief sculpture, "Mercado Rodriguez," in colored cement 65 feet long, was executed in Mexico City. He won the competition for relief sculpture on the Associated Press Building, Rockefeller Center, in 1938 and he received the commission for the Ford Exposition Building fountain at the New York World's Fair in 1939. His sculptures have appeared in exhibitions of the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, and the Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura, Japan. Noguchi has had one man shows in New York, Cambridge, Buffalo, Rochester, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Honolulu, and London. During 1935-36 and 1944-46, he executed settings for the Martha Graham Dance Company. Noguchi has collaborated with such talented contemporary architects as Buckminster Fuller, Marcel Breuer, Louis Khan, Kenzo Tange, and Gordon Bunshaft. His gardens and plazas grace many of the major buildings designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in all parts of the country, and his tables and lamps - another facet of his artistry - have been best sellers over the years.