The Noguchi Museum announced architect Tadao Ando and artist Elyn Zimmerman as recipients of the third annual Isamu Noguchi Award, given to recognize individuals who share Noguchi’s spirit of innovation, global consciousness, and East-West exchange. The awards will be presented during a special ceremony at The Noguchi Museum’s annual Spring Benefit on Tuesday, May 10, 2016.
Jenny Dixon, Director of The Noguchi Museum states:
With the Isamu Noguchi Award, the Museum honors the enduring links between the work of Isamu Noguchi and the many artists and designers he continues to inspire. We are thrilled to present this year’s Isamu Noguchi Award to architect Tadao Ando and artist Elyn Zimmerman, whose approach to their profound and beautiful work shares much with Noguchi’s.
One of the most important artists of the modern era, Isamu Noguchi (1904–88) ignored the boundaries between art and design, creating sculptures, gardens, furniture and lighting designs, ceramics, architecture, playgrounds, and set designs. His multi-faceted practice included collaborations with some of the most important artists and thinkers of the 20th century, including John Cage, Martha Graham, and Buckminster Fuller, among others. As demonstrated by the Award, artists in all mediums continue to engage with and find inspiration in his work today.
Tadao Ando’s minimalist approach, sensitivity to light, and incorporation of natural elements into his projects, in addition to his fusion of Eastern and Western architecture, are all principles that Noguchi embraced throughout his career. Highly regarded for his unparalleled work with concrete and his creative use of natural light, Ando is known for structures that follow natural forms of the landscape. Like Noguchi’s sculpture, which gave equal importance to the object and the space it inhabited, Ando’s work harmoniously integrates edifice and environment, while interior and exterior are intimately connected through his incorporation of water, light, wind, sky, and landscape into his building designs. Ando learned his first lessons by studying traditional Japanese architecture before learning about modern Western architecture, including the buildings of Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Louis Kahn. The inspiration he drew from these experiences is evident throughout his work which, much like the museum that Noguchi designed, often provide sanctuary from the clamor of daily life.
Elyn Zimmerman also shares with Noguchi a sensitivity to atmosphere and the incorporation of natural elements into the design of her projects—from public plazas to sculpture gardens on a grand scale. Zimmerman started her career as a painter and photographer, captivated by the ephemeral notion of light and space. A trip to India inspired her to create outdoor works, and her first significant public installation was for the National Geographic Society, in 1980. Like Noguchi, Zimmerman is best known for her use of stone, often in association with water and landscape elements. Her deep appreciation for the emotional resonance of stone and the ways it interacts with the environment has translated into her public and private commissions, which often feature monoliths or channels of rough and polished stone. Like Noguchi, she is a global citizen, and undertakes collaborations around the world.