(November 17, 1904-December 30, 1988)
Born in Los Angeles, California
Sculptor, landscape artist and furniture designer
Sculptures include 'News' (1940), 'Kouros' (1946), 'The Cry' (1962), 'Red Cube' (1968), 'Black Sun' (1969) and 'Twin Sculpture' (1972)
Designed the Garden of Peace at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, the sunken garden for Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza in New York City, the sunken garden for the Yale University Rare Books Library, the Billy Rose Sculpture Garden at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the Expo '70 garden fountain in Osaka and the Playscapes children's playground in Atlanta
Designed the Noguchi table (1947), consisting of a heavy glass top on a base of two identical curved wooden pieces
Received the National Medal of the Arts (1987)
Why he might be annoying
He dropped out of Columbia University's pre-med program.
He was dropped from the Public Works of Art program after his proposed works were repeatedly rejected (including a playground design that was personally nixed by New York Parks Commissioner Robert Moses).
He preferred abstract art, but for most of his early career had to sculpt portrait busts to support himself.
His decision to voluntarily join the WWII Japanese internment camps to promote arts and crafts proved a bust, as the camp administrators ignored him as an outside agitator while many of the internees suspected he was spying on them for the government.
Why he might not be annoying
He had his first exhibit only three months after enrolling in night school to study art (1924).
He was so promising that the Guggenheim Foundation bent its rules to grant him a Fellowship even though he was three years below the minimum age (1926).
He designed ballet sets for Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham.
During WWII, he was harassed by the FBI for forming Nisei Writers and Artists for Democracy (which promoted the viewpoint that just because an American was of Japanese ethnicity that didn't mean he couldn't be a loyal citizen) until the ACLU intervened on his behalf.
Credit: C. Fishel
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