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Work of Japanese American artist added to White House

Photo from Louise Dahl-Wolfe and The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Museum, New York/ARS by  Louise Dahl-Wolfe (1955)

The White House added a sculpture by Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi to the White House Rose Garden Friday.

Art News reported First Lady Melania Trump quietly chose the sculpture titled the Floor Frame which the White House Historical Association acquired for $125,000 without much fanfare.

The Floor Frame by Isamu Noguchi
The Floor Frame by Isamu Noguchi. Photo from the White House Historical Association

According to WhiteHouseHistory.org, Noguchi was born in 1904 in Los Angeles to a Japanese father and an American mother.

After graduating from high school, Noguchi earned an apprenticeship with American sculptor Gutzon Borglum who would advise Noguchi not to pursue art as a career. Noguchi then enrolled at Columbia University in pre-med, but eventually dropped out to pursue sculpture after his mom encouraged him to take an evening sculpture class.

He would eventually gain fame and recognition after he completed a large sculpture for the Associated Press Building in Rockefeller Center, New York City. 

WhiteHouseHistory.org reports Noguchi co-founded the  Nisei Writers and Artists Mobilization for Democracy and lobbied for civil rights for Japanese Americans. He voluntarily reported to the Poston Incarceration Camp in Arizona with the hope of making the camp more humane. When he realized that would not be possible, he tried to leave but quickly found out he had become a prisoner despite entering the camp voluntarily.

He wrote about his experience for Reader’s Digest.

Work by Isamu Noguchi
Work by Isamu Noguchi

Honors include the Edward MacDowell Medal for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to the Arts in 1982, the 1986 Kyoto Prize in Arts (Japan), the National Medal of Arts in 1987 (United States), and the Order of the Sacred Treasure posthumously from the Japanese Government in 1998.

He died in 1988 at the age of 84.

“Noguchi’s inclusion in the White House Collection is a worthy testament to his incredible life’s work and is a milestone in our efforts to ensure that Americans from all cultural backgrounds are represented,” said Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association to Art News.

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