Using Noguchi’s personal correspondence and interviews with artists, patrons, assistants and lovers, this is a compulsively readable biography of a vital figure in twentieth-century art and design
‘A fascinating read … Herrera writes with compassion and energy’ – Aesthetica
‘Opens a fascinating window into 20th-century history’– The Art Newspaper
Born to an American mother and a Japanese father, Isamu Noguchi never felt like he belonged anywhere and spent his life assembling identities through his sculpture, landscape architecture and design.
In a career spanning more than six decades from the 1920s until his death in 1988, he travelled incessantly, from New York to remote Japanese islands, from Paris to Bangladesh, synthesizing aesthetic values. The result – massive sculptures of interlocking wood, Zen-like gardens of granite and stone slides – is now seen as a powerful artistic link between East and West. He also designed stage sets and a number of lamps and pieces of furniture that are counted among the greatest classics of modern design.
Noguchi was elusive, forever uprooting himself to reinvigorate what he called the ‘keen edge of originality’. Yet Herrera locates this man in his friendships with artists such as Buckminster Fuller and Arshile Gorky, and in his affairs with women such as Frida Kahlo. Herrera reveals his playfulness and his intense immersion in his work, from designing sets for Martha Graham to creating the Noguchi Museum in Queens, New York.
A rich meditation on art in a globalized milieu, Listening to Stone is a moving portrait of an artist compulsively driven to reinvent himself as he searched for his own ‘essence of sculpture’.
Hayden Herrera is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work; Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo; and Matisse: A Portrait. She has lectured widely, curated several exhibitions of art, taught Latin American art at New York University and has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is the author of numerous articles and reviews for such publications as Art in America, ArtForum and the New York Times, among others. Her biography of Frida Kahlo was made into an Academy Award-nominated film in 2002.