Modern Design /07 October 2008

The following lot was created as the maquette for a pylon installed at the Philip A. Hart Plaza adjacent to the Detroit Civic Center. Beginning with an invitation to design one fountain, this commission grew into a more encompassing project lasting seven years. With Isamu Noguchi ultimately creating three elements: the pylon, a central fountain and the surrounding public space. The lead architect, Bob Hastings from the firm Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, gave Noguchi full rein to design the entire plaza knowing that Noguchi alone could create the desired harmony within the expansive riverfront area.The full-scale, stainless steel pylon reaches 120 feet, ascending dramatically from its planar environment with a piercing weightlessness. As a recurring theme in his visual vocabulary, the pylon form alludes to several references—DNA, gravity (or defiance of), geometric order and the pedagogical spirit of R. Buckminister Fuller and Constantin Brancusi. Like so much of Noguchi’s masterful, sculptural public works, the Detroit pylon is full of meaning and purpose while being resolutely abstract.To ensure that the realized sculpture could achieve the subtle but beautiful twist that Noguchi designed, Davidson Aluminum and Metal Corporation of Deer Park, New York created this maquette. Upon completion of the final installation, Noguchi gifted this work to the company's owner, Al Davidson.
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158

Isamu Noguchi

maquette for pylon, Detroit Civic Center Plaza
USA, 1971
aluminum
6½ w × 6½ d × 31 h in (17 × 17 × 79 cm)

The following lot was created as the maquette for a pylon installed at the Philip A. Hart Plaza adjacent to the Detroit Civic Center.

The following lot was created as the maquette for a pylon installed at the Philip A. Hart Plaza adjacent to the Detroit Civic Center. Beginning with an invitation to design one fountain, this commission grew into a more encompassing project lasting seven years. With Isamu Noguchi ultimately creating three elements: the pylon, a central fountain and the surrounding public space. The lead architect, Bob Hastings from the firm Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, gave Noguchi full rein to design the entire plaza knowing that Noguchi alone could create the desired harmony within the expansive riverfront area.The full-scale, stainless steel pylon reaches 120 feet, ascending dramatically from its planar environment with a piercing weightlessness. As a recurring theme in his visual vocabulary, the pylon form alludes to several references—DNA, gravity (or defiance of), geometric order and the pedagogical spirit of R. Buckminister Fuller and Constantin Brancusi. Like so much of Noguchi’s masterful, sculptural public works, the Detroit pylon is full of meaning and purpose while being resolutely abstract.To ensure that the realized sculpture could achieve the subtle but beautiful twist that Noguchi designed, Davidson Aluminum and Metal Corporation of Deer Park, New York created this maquette. Upon completion of the final installation, Noguchi gifted this work to the company's owner, Al Davidson.

This work is unique.

exhibited: Gift of the artist to Albert Davidson |Thence by descent | Private collection, Los Angeles

literature: Isamu Noguchi: Sculptural Design, Eisenbrand, Posch and von Vegesack, pg. 286 The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, Noguchi, ppg. 178-179 discusses commission Isamu Noguchi: A Study of Space, Torres, ppg. 174-183 Isamu Noguchi, Hunter, pgp. 164-165 Noguchi's Imaginary Landscapes, Friedman, pg. 19

estimate: $50,000–70,000
result: $48,000

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Isamu Noguchi 1904–1988

Isamu Noguchi was born in Los Angeles in 1904 to Yone Noguchi, a Japanese poet, and Leonie Gilmor, an American writer. Noguchi lived in Japan from the age of two until 1918 when he returned to the United States to attend school in Indiana. In 1922 Noguchi moved to New York to study pre-medicine at Columbia University. He also took night courses in sculpture with Onorio Ruotolo and soon after, he left Columbia in pursuit of a career in the arts.

In 1927 Noguchi received a Guggenheim Fellowship for a trip to Paris and the Far East. For six months in Paris, he worked in the studio of Constantin Brancusi and his own work became more abstract as Noguchi explored working with stone, wood and sheet metal. Noguchi returned to New York and in 1929 he met R. Buckminster Fuller and Martha Graham, colleagues and friends with whom he would later collaborate. In 1938 Noguchi was commissioned to complete a work for the Associated Press building in the Rockefeller Center in New York. Marking his first public sculpture, this work garnered attention and recognition for the artist in the United States.

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