Join us on March 30th for the first dedicated auction of its kind featuring more than 50 lots of early and rare examples of Noguchi's Akari. Presented together, this impressive collection demonstrates that Noguchi's Akari continue to stand the test of time.
Wright is proud to present Taking Shape: The Akari Light Sculptures of Isamu Noguchi on March 30th featuring more than 50 historic Akari light sculptures by Japanese American artist and designer Isamu Noguchi. Curated by Adam Edelsberg, this first-ever dedicated auction of its kind features Akari designed and created between the early 1950s and the mid-1980s.
The extensive selection showcases a body of work that Noguchi sustained across multiple decades and which stands as a testament to his seamless integration of art and design. The auction is accompanied by a fully illustrated, limited-edition hardcover print catalogue that includes historical context and essays, including a contribution from scholar Glenn Adamson. In his essay, Adamson notes that this event offers “a rare opportunity to see and compare a wide range of pristine early examples” of Akari.
The entire collection will be presented together at New York’s High Line Nine in a public exhibition designed by Robert Gaul. This significant occasion affords an opportunity to not only view the evolution of Noguchi’s individual designs, but also to experience their collective impact as an installation. Adamson writes, “if, as Noguchi also liked to say, all one really needs to start a home is a room, a futon, and a single Akari hanging above, they are that much more powerful when installed en masse. The Akari offered encompass all the major lighting forms including table lamps, pendant fixtures and floor lamps. The estimated selling ranges begin at $2,000–3,000 for a 20-inch freestanding model 4N designed in 1968 to $10,000–15,000 for a hanging eight-foot tall model E designed in 1954.
Famed for his ability to merge traditional influences with modern sensibilities, Noguchi first began to conceive his Akari at the behest of the Mayor of Gifu, who, in 1951, asked for the artist’s help in revitalizing the city’s chochin paper lantern industry. To produce his designs, Noguchi partnered with the Ozeki Jishichi Shoten, which later became Ozeki & Co., Ltd. His early forms were included in a 1952 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art Kamakura, and by the mid-1950s, they had been included in the groundbreaking Good Design exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Noguchi would continue to develop the available forms, expanding to include interchangeable metal armatures, wire bases, single-stem bamboo rods, and more. “It was an ongoing improvisation, made possible by artisan production methods,” writes Adamson, “The resulting diversity makes the Akari a unique phenomenon in design history, at once elusive and pervasive.”
As unique phenomenon, the Akari are simultaneously timelessly elegant works of luminous sculpture and objects that represent a specific moment in the history of modern design. Akari revealed a growing global appetite to live with art – an embodiment of Noguchi’s intention “to bring sculpture into a more direct involvement with the common experience of living.”
The full selection of works featured in Taking Shape: The Akari Light Sculptures of Isamu Noguchi will be on view in New York from March 21st – 29th from 10 am to 5 pm, Monday through Saturday, at the High Line Nine at 527 W. 27th Street. The live auction will take place at Wright in Chicago on Thursday, March 30th, beginning at 11 am Central. and accommodates advanced bids, telephone bidding, and live online bidding via www.wright20.com.