© The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, NY
Noguchi did not belong to any particular movement, but collaborated with artists working in a range of different mediums and schools. He created stage sets as early as 1935 for the dancer/choreographer Martha Graham, that began a lifelong collaboration, as well as for dancers/choreographers Merce Cunningham, Erick Hawkins, and George Balanchine and composer John Cage. In the 1960s he began working with stone carver Masatoshi Izumi on the island of Shikoku, Japan, a collaboration that would also continue for the rest of his life, and from 1960 to 1966 he worked on a playground design with the architect Louis Kahn.
When given the opportunity to venture into the mass-production of his interior designs, Noguchi seized it. In 1937 he designed a Bakelite intercom for the Zenith Radio Corporation, and in 1947, his glass-topped table was produced by Herman Miller. This design—along with others such as his designs for Akari Light Sculptures which was developed in 1951 using traditional Japanese materials—are still being produced today.
In 1985 Noguchi opened The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum (now known as The Noguchi Museum), in Long Island City, New York. The Museum, established and designed by the artist, marked the culmination of his commitment to public spaces. Located in a 1920s industrial building across the street from where the artist had established a studio in 1960, it has a serene outdoor sculpture garden, and many galleries that display Noguchi’s work, along with photographs and models from his career.
Noguchi’s first retrospective in the United States was in 1968, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York City. In 1986, he represented the United States at the Venice Biennale. Noguchi received the Edward MacDowell Medal for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to the Arts in 1982; the Kyoto Prize in Arts in 1986; the National Medal of Arts in 1987; and the Order of Sacred Treasure from the Japanese government in 1988. He died in New York City in 1988.