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29 x 29 x 3 1/2 in. 73.7 x 73.7 x 8.9 cm.


white marble

Executed in 1964.


Staempfli Gallery, New York (acquired directly from the artist)
Robert W. Sarnoff, New York (acquired from the above in April 1965)
Acquired by the present estate from the above


New York, Cordier & Ekstrom Gallery, Isamu Noguchi, March - April 1965
Berkeley, University of California, University Art Museum, Excellence, November 1970 - January 1971


Nancy Grove & Diane Botnick, The Sculpture of Isamu Noguchi 1924-1979: A Catalogue, New York, 1980, cat. no. 571, p. 104, illustrated


Symbolizing the sculptural confidence and technical mastery of Isamu Noguchi's maturing artistic style, The Sky illuminates one of Noguchi's central themes - the relationship between art and nature. Noguchi employed materials quarried from the earth and the reductive form of one solitary ring recalls the 'circle of life' and Zen-like philosophies.

Noguchi's fascination with natural materials and carving dated from his youth in Japan. In his later career, Noguchi drew upon Surrealist notions, employing biomorphic forms in his work of the 1940s. But ultimately, he sought a more rigorous reductive aesthetic similar to his ultimate mentor, Constantin Brancusi with whom he studied in Paris in 1927. Noguchi admired the simplicity of Brancusi's work and its reductive and silently powerful qualities, often blending natural materials with a primitive sensibility, as is evident in The Sky. Noguchi's first subsequent sculpture in stone was a marble sphere with a quarter of its mass removed -- the epitome of formal reduction--vaguely recalling the form of the present work, The Sky. By the late 1950s, Noguchi focused on marble as his primary material, receiving stone from Greece and, beginning in 1962, from Italy, a source suggested to him by Henry Moore. With this ancient medium, Noguchi achieved an extraordinary luminescence and radiance that seems to emanate from the stone.

The Sky is a circle of simple yet complex construction, as the central void is slightly ovoid in shape and cut at an angle to the surface. Yet the purity and potency of the circle as a symbol remains, connoting a halo, infinity, unity, perfection and the cycle of life. Executed in 1964, The Sky is a classic paradigm of everything Noguchi sought to encompass with his works--the relationship between man and material, elimination of the inessential through formal reduction, and the endless quest "to view nature through nature's eyes" (Bruce Altshuler, Isamu Noguchi, New York, 1994, p. 14)
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