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  • Thumbnail for Speaking with space : fusions of east and west in Isamu Noguchi's UNESCO garden
    Speaking with space : fusions of east and west in Isamu Noguchi's UNESCO garden by Cabot, Heather

    In 1958, the Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) brought to completion his first large-scale garden project: the Garden of Peace, both Japanese and modernist in style, for the new UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France. The commission, begun in 1955 and originally intended for his design of the new facilities’ outdoor patio space, was extended by Noguchi to include a Japanese-style garden adjacent to, but lower than, the original site. With Isamu Noguchi’s formal Western training and interest in Japanese culture, the final product is an unusual hybrid; its materials, forms, composition, and spirit are a synthesis of both Eastern and Western aesthetic values. His writings and documented interviews are plentiful and offer us a unique glimpse into the artist’s own meditations and conclusions. This thesis will draw on Isamu Noguchi’s own writings in an attempt to resolve what may appear to be mixed messages in the form of the work. The motivations of the planning group at UNESCO, the commissioning institution for Noguchi’s Paris garden, will also be considered.