Isamu Noguchi My Pacific (Polynesian Culture) 1942

  • MoMA, Floor 5, 509 The David Geffen Wing

During World War II, Isamu Noguchi, who was born to a Japanese father and an American mother, spent seven months in a Japanese concentration camp in Arizona. Noguchi could have avoided incarceration, since he lived in New York City and the forced evacuation was directed at Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast and in Hawaii, but he volunteered to enter the camp.

After his time there, Noguchi made a series of sculptures, including My Pacific, out of driftwood he collected in California and Arizona. The sculptor and designer preferred natural materials, such as wood, marble, slate, and bone, often carving them into organic forms or leaving them as he found them. He would then assemble the pieces into a composition that depended on balance to remain upright. In 1973 he said, “I’m always trying to expand the possibility of sculpture. … To me the essence of sculpture derives very much from the material, you know, the truth of the material.”

Text updated 2024
41 x 21 x 8 1/4" (104.1 x 53.3 x 20.9 cm)
Florene May Schoenborn Bequest
Object number
© 2024 Estate of Isamu Noguchi / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Painting and Sculpture

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