Site map


Passenger Files: Isamo Noguchi, 1904-1988

Isamo Noguchi with Buckminster Fuller, 1970s (Source: http://www.noguchi.org/wbuckyfullrer.htm)

Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi was born in Los Angeles in 1904. In1927 he travelled to Paris with a Guggenheim Fellowship and worked as an assistant to Constantin Brancusi, who was experimenting with streamlined forms in sculpture. In Paris, he frequented an ex-patriate community of artists including Alexander Calder, Morris Kantor, and Stuart Davis. In 1929, when his Guggenheim Fellowship was not renewed, Noguchi returned to New York.

In October 1929, in a New York tavern called Romany Marie's Noguchi, completely broke and making a living by sculpting portrait heads, was introduced to Buckminster Fuller, who told him about the Dymaxion House that he had just designed. Immediately, he offered to sculpt Fuller's head.

As Fuller later put it:

He absolutely fell in love with that house and everything I said: and he said, could he make a head of me? and I said I’d be glad to have him do it. so posing for him day after day gave us a chance to build up our friendship that went on and on from there

(source: http://www.bfi.org/gallery_one.htm)

Isamo Noguchi, Portrait head of Buckminster Fuller, 1929 (Source: http://www.artnet.com/Magazine/features/NOGUCHI/noguchi13.asp)


Noguchi was directly involved in the development of the Dymaxion car between 1933-4.

He created the plaster wind-tunnel models of the car that were so important in designing the shape of the car's nose.

Noguchi's wind-tunnel models of the dymaxion transport

Later in 1934, Noguchi went on a road trip through Connecticut in the completed Dymaxion car with Clare Boothe Luce and Dorothy Hale - stopping to see Thornton Wilder in Hamden, Connecticut, before going onto Hartford for the out-of-town opening of Gertrude Stein’s and Virgil Thompson Four Saints in Three Acts.

In 1936, Noguchi enlisted Fuller's assistance for a large mural piece in Mexico depicting a boy studing Einstein's Energy equation. Noguchi couldn't remember the equation, and wired Fuller, who responded with a complete explanation of E = mc squared, in fifty words.




Site created by Michael John Gorman. Updated March 12, 2002, 12.17PM