Isamu Noguchi

image for Isamu Noguchi
Exhibition Label
Born Los Angeles, California
German-born artist Winold Reiss challenged the racial typing of minorities by portraying his black, Native American, and Asian subjects as dignified individuals. His portrait of sculptor Isamu Noguchi defied the "yellow peril" stereotyping that followed the 1924 National Origins Act banning Chinese and Japanese immigration. With his frontal pose and bold, confrontational gaze, Noguchi, whose father was Japanese, appears as a self-assured, thoroughly modern young American. The abstract background hints at that mix of the organic and geometric that characterized Noguchi’s sculpture. At the time, Noguchi had just returned from Paris on a Guggenheim Fellowship. In his grant application, he had stated how he planned to reconcile his dual ethnicity through art: "My father . . . has long been known as an interpreter of the East to the West, through poetry. I wish to do the same with sculpture."
Winold Reiss, 16 Sep 1886 - 29 Aug 1953
Isamu Noguchi, 17 Nov 1904 - 30 Dec 1988
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Joseph and Rosalyn Newman Conserved with funds from the Smithsonian Women's Committee
Restrictions & Rights
© Estate of Winold Reiss
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
c. 1929
Object number
Costume\Dress Accessory\Tie\Necktie
Isamu Noguchi: Male
Isamu Noguchi: Visual Arts\Artist\Sculptor
Isamu Noguchi: Visual Arts\Designer\Interior Designer
Isamu Noguchi: Visual Arts\Designer\Product Designer
Pastel on paper
Sight: 73.7 x 54.6cm (29 x 21 1/2")
Frame: 87.9 x 68.6 x 5.1cm (34 5/8 x 27 x 2")
National Portrait Gallery