Theaster Gates, Edmund de Waal, and Hanya Yanagihara named 2023 Isamu Noguchi Award winners
By Josh Niland|
Friday, Apr 21, 2023
The Noguchi Museum has just announced three winners for the tenth edition of its Isamu Noguchi Award first established in 2014 to honor the core tenets of the visionary sculptor and designer’s artistic legacy.
Edmund de Waal, Hanya Yanagihara, and Theaster Gates are the trio being honored by the soon-to-expand Queens-based institution. The museum says the award “illuminates how Noguchi’s ideals endure in contemporary culture as exemplified through the work of the honorees.” Winners join a roster of past honorees that to date includes Tadao Ando, Norman Foster, John Pawson, and Toshiko Mori, among other notable artists and architectural designers.
“The Isamu Noguchi award is one of the highest honors I could receive,” Gates said, speaking of its namesake. “The complexity and purity of Noguchi’s practice, and the ambition of his public works, has always been true north for me. The philosophies, traditions and ways of working that underpin Noguchi’s practice continue to act as pillars and anchors of truth for me. I am humbled to receive this recognition and to be recognized amongst my colleagues Hanya Yanagihara and Edmund de Waal.”
De Waal added: “I’m truly honored to be receiving the Isamu Noguchi Award. Noguchi has been a constant presence in my life since I first went to Japan over forty years ago. I was a pilgrim to the many places in which he worked and since then feel that I have traveled in his footsteps. His relationship with the materials of clay and stone and his sense of place have informed and delighted me. Noguchi’s encounters with traditional skills were respectful: He took them seriously enough to change and renew them with vigor. I am a potter, I work with the oldest craft in the world, and I try to renew my art in a similar way.”
Hanya Yanagihara shared: “It’s a profound honor to receive this Award, particularly as I’ve long been inspired by Noguchi’s work as both an artist and a politically engaged citizen. I’ve always admired how his dedication to craft intersected with his sense of cultural and personal responsibility, in a way that had real consequences for him. As an East Coast-based Japanese American resident, he was exempted from Executive Order 9066, which placed over 120,000 Japanese Americans — most of them American citizens — in prison camps. But in 1942, he voluntarily committed himself to one of those camps, Poston, with idealistic hopes of creating a more humane environment.”
Each recipient will be honored on Tuesday, September 12th, at a special benefit gala held at the museum's Long Island City location.
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