The Bust of Mrs. Stuart Davis

A Lasting Portrait

Isamu Noguchi is widely recognized for his abstract sculptural forms, but some of his earliest works were representational. In fact, Noguchi made more than 100 portrait sculptures early in his career. This work, sculpted in plaster in 1926, is a portrait of Bessie Chosak, the soon to be wife of Noguchi’s friend Stuart Davis.

In 1983 Bessie’s brother, Robert Chosak, contacted Noguchi requesting permission to preserve the work and have it cast in bronze; Noguchi agreed to the request and asked only that a photograph of the completed work be sent to him. The family intended to have three examples produced, however the edition was never completed. This example is the only one that was cast.

Isamu Noguchi 1904–1988

Isamu Noguchi was the son of Yone Noguchi, a Japanese poet, and Léonie Gilmour, an American writer. He was born in Los Angeles in 1904 but 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.

Auction Results Isamu Noguchi