22 April 2020
Friedman, Martin. “Noguchi's Imaginary Landscapes.” Design Quarterly, no. 106/107, 1978, pp. 25–37.
This article is an introduction to the set, prop and costumes designs of American artist Isamu Noguchi, important for having revolutionized stage design with his sculptural and ritualistic performance environments. The article is focused on his mid-century collaboration with choreographer Martha Graham, but it also includes references to his work ith other choreographers and directors (Cunningham, Balanchine). The Graham-Noguchi partnership is presented as a beguiling but ultimately successful creative partnership. The author uses published quotes from Noguchi, Graham and review publications to reveal the details of their unique design process. Several Graham/Noguchi projects (Judith, Clytemnestra) are discussed in detail, accompanied by production photographs. The biographical specifics of Noguchi’s life outside of his design work for the stage are not a part of this article.
Important themes: sculpture, Modern dance, dance design process, abstraction, symbolism, Noh drama, Japanese garden design, psychoanalysis, myth, interdisciplinary methods, practical versus symbolic, eroticism, prop design, costume design, scene design.
How does this relate to scenography?
This article is directly about set, costume and prop design for the stage. It provides clear examples of work that was unconventional for its time and notable for its use of abstraction and symbolism. It reveals details of the design process between Noguchi and Graham that may be very interesting to design students about to embark on careers of their own.