Isamu Noguchi

United States Pavilion, Biennale

It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate centerpiece for Isamu Noguchi’s exhibition at the Venice Biennale than Slide Mantra, 1986. This sweeping white marble spiral incorporates many of the central influences on his work of the past 50 years, including Modernist biomorphic abstraction and the carefully considered, meditative naturalism of Japanese gardens. It demonstrates as well his profound sensitivity to the sensuous properties of materials, and reflects the dual role Noguchi has taken for himself as a sculptor: as a creator both of formally expressive objects and of environments for people to use. The spiraling marble form, geometric and natural at the same time, is also an elegant slide that seems to have been lifted from some empyreal playground. One attendant at the pavilion even stood by the little interior steps at the back of the piece urging passersby to take off their shoes

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