New Design Show Celebrates Noguchi’s Reverence for Greece

September 18, 2021

LONG ISLAND CITY, NY – The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum presents a collaborative exhibition with Eleni Petaloti and Leonidas Trampoukis of the Greece- and New York-based studio Objects of Common Interest. Works by Petaloti and Trampoukis, who take an intuitive approach to object and space making inspired by “moments of unfamiliar simplicity,” are interspersed within The Noguchi Museum’s garden and first floor permanent installation from September 15 through February 13, 2022.

Eleni Petaloti and Leonidas Trampoukis, co-founders and principals of Objects of Common Interest and LOT Office for Architecture, share with Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) a focus on form as an abstract empirical tool of social function.

Noguchi’s purpose in invoking the relationship between art and design here was neither to elevate nor forswear design. He recognized no fixed hierarchical relationship between the disciplines and was uninterested in such labels. He did want to make clear that, in his view, all sculpture should be functional. Function is what he means by “fundamental problems.”

From his point of view, a Play Mountain the size of a city block constituted a functional object.

Dakin Hart, Senior Curator and organizer of the exhibition, stated: “What is so interesting about the things Objects of Common Interest makes is that despite often having no explicit or essential purpose, and even though their works are clearly in search of something more than function and attention, they never wander far from an unidentifiable usefulness. It’s in those in-between states and zones, free from any particular requirement, that Noguchi’s thinking thrived.”

In advance of the exhibition, Objects of Common Interest and The Noguchi Museum have launched a digital feature that explores Isamu Noguchi’s relationship with Greece, “a place he was initially introduced to through mythology but later discovered so personally that he once described it as his ‘intellectual home.’”

The feature is presented as a visual collage in three sections: “Noguchi in Greece” collects photographs, correspondence, and other ephemera from the Museum’s archive and independent research to create a portrait of Noguchi’s travels, personal relationships, and impressions of Greece. “Greece Within Noguchi” follows influences of the culture, materiality, and atmosphere of Greece through his life’s work.

In the third section, “Tracing Noguchi,” the studio presents a collaboration with international photographers invited to interpret Objects of Common Interest’s works in relation to Henry Miller’s The Colossus of Maroussi (New Directions, 1949), which Noguchi carried with him on his initial travels through Greece in the 1950s.

In the words of Objects of Common Interest: “As we investigated, it became almost essential to express how our study of Noguchi has affected our quest for abstraction. Noguchi’s impact on us is not unlike that of the Greek landscape, sun, and culture: not in any direct way related to formal expression, but the essential backdrops to our journey.”

The feature is available to the public to explore at noguchi.org/noguchi-in-greece.

“In his working years, Noguchi (1904-1988) began regularly stopping off in Greece on his way back and forth between New York and Japan, although he first discovered Greece through mythology read to him by his mother,” Wallpaper reported in its article on the exhibition.

“At one stage, he located a Penteli marble craftsman who would carve rudimentary blocks of marble for him to work on back in New York, but his relationship to Greece went much deeper than the physicality of making,” Wallpaper reported, noting that “speaking to a Greek journalist in 1958, he recalled a recent trip to Delphi: ‘Did you notice how well the space ties in with the objects and the movements of people, and how perfectly, how wisely the whole thing is framed by nature?’”

Objects of Common Interest is working on a set of books that expand upon the themes and content of the research presented in Noguchi in Greece, Greece Within Noguchi, and including an expanded set of photographs from the Tracing Noguchi project.

The Noguchi Museum 9-01 33rd Road (at Vernon Boulevard) Long Island City, NY is open Wednesday-Sunday, 11 AM-6 PM, by advance reservation: noguchi.org/visit.


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