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Noguchi Museum Honors Leonard and Louise Riggio at Annual Benefit

NEW YORK.- On May 5, 2009, The Noguchi Museum honored Leonard and Louise Riggio, among the country’s most enlightened philanthropists, at the Museum’s annual benefit. Mr. and Mrs. Riggio were recognized for their arts patronage in general and for their generous promised gift to the Museum of nine stone sculptures created by Noguchi between 1983 and 1986. The works were promised to the Museum in 2001, with the understanding that the arrangement would not be announced at that time. However, the Riggios recently granted the Museum’s request to make the promised gift public, in the hopes that news of their actions might encourage others at a time when patronage means more than ever to cultural institutions.

Noguchi Museum Director Jenny Dixon states, “Because so much of Leonard and Louise Riggio’s generosity comprises quiet, unannounced gestures, the breadth of their philanthropy is not broadly known. The Noguchi Museum is delighted to honor them on the occasion of its annual benefit. The nine sculptures that they have promised reveal a great deal about Noguchi’s work in stone, and will greatly strengthen the Museum’s collection. This is an especially momentous gift for a single-artist museum, and will help to ensure the ongoing strength of The Noguchi Museum.”

Leonard Riggio adds, “Museums built by individual artists are some of the most important legacies of our civilization. The Noguchi Museum is certainly one of the world’s very best examples, enabling visitors to view art through the eyes of the artist, and not the lens of a curator. It truly is one of New York City’s major cultural monuments.”

The nine sculptures promised by the Riggios were made by Noguchi at his studio in Japan, in the village of Mure-cho, on the island of Shikoku. Made variously of basalt, granite, and andesite, they open a window onto the aesthetic and technical issues that Noguchi confronted in his sculpture in stone, revealing the ways in which the artist worked with the unique characteristics of each type. In so doing, he created artworks that are at once modern and traditional, Western and Japanese, subtle and dramatic.

The promised works are part of a group created by the artist specifically to be sold for the benefit of his museum in New York. Noguchi opened The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum to the public in 1985, and was determined that it would remain strong into posterity.

Isamu Noguchi Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) was one of the most critically acclaimed sculptors of the twentieth century. Through a lifetime of artistic experimentation, he created sculpture, gardens, furniture, lighting and interior designs, ceramics, architecture, and set designs. In crossing boundaries that traditionally separate disciplines and placing design on an equal footing with art, he created multifaceted work that set a new standard for artistic achievement. An internationalist, Noguchi traveled extensively throughout his life. He discovered the impact of large-scale public works in Mexico, earthy ceramics and tranquil gardens in Japan, subtle ink-brush techniques in China, and the purity of marble in Italy. In his later years, he maintained studios in both Japan and New York. He collaborated with artists and thinkers in a range of disciplines, including designer and inventor Buckminster Fuller, architects Gordon Bunshaft and Louis Kahn, and dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, among others.

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