Isamu Noguchi's Modernism: Negotiating Race, Labor, and Nation, 1930-1950

Exploring the complex interweaving of race, national identity and the practice of sculpture, Amy Lyford takes us through a close examination of the early career of Japanese American sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988). The years between 1930 and 1950 were some of the most fertile of Noguchi’s career, yet the work that he produced during this time has received little sustained attention until now. Weaving together new archival material with little-known or unrealized works, along with those that are more familiar, Lyford offers a fresh perspective on the significance of Noguchi’s modernist sculpture to 20th century culture and art history. Through an examination of his work, this book tells a story about his connections to the most important cultural and political issues of his time. By focusing on Noguchi’s reputation and reception as an artist of Japanese American descent, Lyford analyzes the artist and his work within the context of that era’s desire to define what modern American art might be—and confronts unspoken assumptions that linked whiteness to Americanness. Lyford reveals how Noguchi’s reputation was both shaped by and helped define ideas about race, labor and national identity in 20th century American culture.

  • Author: Amy Lyford
  • Published March 2018
  • 294 pages, softcover
  • 10 X 7 inches