Julie Houston, a reader who turned us on to that incredible Zorba the Greek video we posted a while back, recently sent this quote by sculptor Isamu Noguchi that she saw on a visit to Storm King Art Center, in a work called Momotaro.
The nine-part, 40-ton stone sculpture provides seating atop a hill with sweeping views of the Art Center fields, creating a functional spaces for personal interaction. While gathering the stones for the piece near his studio on the island of Shikoku in Japan, Noguchi managed to split a huge boulder; it reminded him of Momotaro, an ancient Japanese folk hero who was born from a peach pit. The intrepid Sarah M. patiently transcribed a handwritten letter the artist wrote describing how he created it:
Having embarked on a carving of granite so easily recognized as belonging to myth, there was nothing to do but follow the instructive and not premeditated promptings the composition came to demand. Quite different from the vague idea I had in mind. It forced its way, even to the discovery of the peach pit into which a person may crawl, there to meditate inside the sculpture reverberating with the Buddhist word OM.
A place to go to. It may also be recognized as a metaphor for man as end and as beginning, a mirror to the passage of the sun.
Between the quote, the letter, and the pictures Julie sent, we are blown away by Noguchi’s powerful messages of “dong” and “listening”. Julie also included a P.S.:
Actually, the whole Storm King thing is mind-blowingly “improvised” — created by visionaries (few and far between in the 1950’s) from all the excavated dirt from building the New York Thruway.
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2 replies on “isamu noguchi’s creative process”
Just after I saw this post I read this in an article in the NY Review of Books about documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman:
“Others make outlines and then film them. Wiseman describes a paradoxical reversal: first he films, them he decides what film is there to be made. Fundamental questions of significance and intent are uncovered last of all.”
Thanks so much for this: it’s a great example of “following”, a very daring thing to do.