Isamu Noguchi and Qi Baishi: Beijing 1930

February 22 – May 25, 2014

Isamu Noguchi and Qi Baishi: Beijing 1930 brings together for the first time the work of two of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, Isamu Noguchi (American, 1904-1988) and Qi Baishi (Chinese, 1864-1957). Comprising drawings, ink paintings, calligraphic works, and sculptures from the University of Michigan Museum of Art, the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, and private and public collections, it presents thirty-one works by Noguchi and twenty-five by Qi Baishi. The exhibition and its accompanying publication document the period of six months that Noguchi spent in Beijing and shed new light on the little-known relationship between the two artists.

In 1930, at the age of twenty-six, Isamu Noguchi travelled from Russia to Japan in order to meet his father. On the way, he took up residence in Beijing where he studied ink painting under the tutelage of one of the greatest exponents of the medium in the twentieth century, Qi Baishi. This would result in a cycle of more than one hundred works produced by Noguchi with brush and ink, titled Peking Drawings.

Isamu Noguchi and Qi Baishi: Beijing 1930 is organized by the University of Michigan Museum of Art in collaboration with The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York.

Lead support for this exhibition is provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional generous support is provided by the University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies, Confucius Institute, and the Blakemore Foundation.

The exhibition at the Frye Art Museum Seattle is made possible through the Frye Foundation with generous support of Frye Art Museum members and donors. It is sponsored by 4Culture, Washington State Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Seasonal support is provided by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and Arts Fund. Media sponsorship is provided by KUOW 94.9 FM.

Image Credits:
Isamu Noguchi. Peking Drawing (man sitting), 1930. Horizontal hanging scroll, ink on paper. 43 3/4 x 81 in. Courtesy of the Noguchi Museum.
Qi Baishi. Lotus and Dragonfly. Hanging scroll, ink and color on paper. Michael Gallis Collection. Photo: Dennis Nodine
Isamu Noguchi. Mother and Child, 1930. Ink on paper. Collection of Alexandra and Samuel May.
Qi Baishi. Plum Blossoms and Bird, ca. 1930. Hanging scroll, ink on paper. University of Michigan Museum of Art. Gift of Katsuizumi Sotokichi, 1949/1.192.
Qi Baishi. Crabs, ca. 1930. Album leaf, ink on paper. 22 1/8 x 18 1/8 in. The University of Michigan Art Museum, gift of Sotokichi Katsuizumi, 1949/1.199.

Strong, daring compositions… not just a prelude to Noguchi’s mature abstract sculpture, but a whole satisfying body of work in themselves.

Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times

“A feast of flora and figure, melancholy and mark-making perfected.”

Amanda Manitach, City Arts

“The Peking ink paintings are fascinating for their doubleness… Each of these paintings is two paintings, one on top of the other. Or maybe three, your eye separating the two, then synthesizing them back into one.”

Jen Graves, Slog