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Noguchi believed the sculptor’s task was to shape space, to give it order and meaning, and that art should “disappear”, or be as one with its surroundings. Perhaps it was his dual heritage – his father was a Japanese poet, his mother a Scottish-American writer – that resulted in his way of looking at the world with an eye for “oneness”.
Unwilling and unable to be pigeonholed, Noguchi created sculptures that could be as abstract as Henri Moore’s or as realistic as Leonardo’s. He used any medium he could get his hands on: stone, metal, wood, clay, bone, paper, or a mixture of any or all – carving, casting, cutting, pounding, chiselling or dynamiting away as each form took shape.
“To limit yourself to a particular style may make you an expert of that particular viewpoint or school, but I do not wish to belong to any school,” he said. “I am always learning, always discovering.”
His extraordinary range of projects included playgrounds and plazas, furniture and gardens, the stone-carved busts, and Akari paper lights, so delicate they could be folded and put into an envelope. He also designed numerous stage sets for dancer-choreographer Martha Graham, who was as much an influence on him as was his mentor, Constantin Brancusi.