On November 20, the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum (the Noguchi Museum) announced the digital launch of The Isamu Noguchi Archive and an update of The Isamu Noguchi Catalogue Raisonné. This expansion includes 60,000 archival photographs, manuscripts, and drawings by the Japanese-American artist and landscape architect, some of which are fully accessible to the public for the first time.
The launch of the digital archive completes a multiyear project supported by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. Of the 60,000 items, 28,000 are photographs documenting the artist’s artworks, exhibitions, and studios, as well as his travels and relationships. Other materials include correspondence, exhibition records, press clippings, and architectural drawings that Noguchi collected during his lifetime.
The archive’s collections are broken down into categories such as Photography, Manuscript, Architectural, Business & Legal, Noguchi Fountain & Plaza, and Publication & Press Collection in a minimal, user-friendly design. The Architectural Collection as a whole contains 3,000 cataloged sketches, detail drawings, and construction documents of both real and unrealized projects.
The collection also showcases work with Noguchi’s key collaborators such as Shoji Sadao and Louis Kahn, and a simple search will bring visitors to photographs of Noguchi and Kahn hanging out in Jerusalem, or to a letter in which Noguchi brainstormed ideas with Buckminster Fuller. So far, 1,500 items have been uploaded to the online archive with more to come.
First launched in 2011, the Catalogue Raisonné has also undergone an extensive update to include works and exhibitions from the early decades of Noguchi’s career, including the 1920s and 1930s. “Focused efforts to better document this period have led to the discovery of several significant artworks which were assumed to have been lost or destroyed, as well as the identification of a group of heretofore unknown artworks, which the project is now able to confirm as works by Noguchi,” explained Alex Ross, managing editor of the catalog.
Both efforts will undoubtedly bring a deeper understanding and appreciation to the vast body of work Noguchi produced throughout his lifetime. “The materials that are now available to everyone with access to the internet manifest the protean, interdisciplinary nature of Noguchi’s work,” said museum director Brett Littman in a press release. “They will not only enlighten those who browse the digital archive and catalogue raisonné, but it will also inform the Museum’s programming as new ideas and directions take form.”