Owners of Noguchi Sculpture “My Arizona” Test the Artist’s Prophecy in an October Auction at Rago THE OWNERS OF NOGUCHI SCULPTURE “MY ARIZONA” TEST THE ARTIST’S PROPHECY IN AN OCTOBER AUCTION AT RAGO - ICONIC WORKS HELD PRIVATELY SINCE 1978.
News-Antique.com - Sep 25,2013 - THE OWNERS OF NOGUCHI SCULPTURE “MY ARIZONA” TEST THE ARTIST’S PROPHECY IN AN OCTOBER AUCTION AT RAGO - ICONIC WORKS HELD PRIVATELY SINCE 1978.
Lambertville, NJ: "These will bring you good luck someday."
These were the words spoken by the legendary artist/designer/architect Isamu Noguchi in 1978 when he presented two versions of his celebrated sculpture "My Arizona" to Gary Zeller, a young scientist and conservator.
His prophecy will be tested when Rago brings both pieces to market on October 27, 2013 at noon in its 20th/21st C. Design auction.
In May of 1942, Isamu Noguchi voluntarily entered the Poston Relocation Center for “people of Japanese parentage” near Parker, Arizona to oversee a craft program for those interned.
Noguchi’s 1943 sculpture “My Arizona” is his artistic response to that experience. The exposed physical landscape of the camp is abstracted. A fluorescent pink Plexiglas plane reflects hotly down from its conical rise like the desert sun Noguchi came to hate. The work’s title references the camp’s location as well as the U.S.S. Arizona, bombed and sunk in Pearl Harbor where it remains submerged with its crew entombed within. Noguchi’s addition of the possessive pronoun "my" to the title is a heartbreaker: the edges of his sculpture mark the walls of the camp. For those imprisoned, there is nothing beyond.
Noguchi formed “My Arizona” using a malleable material called magnesite. Many decades later, he found an efflorescence of mineral deposits had developed on its surface, marring the work’s appearance. In 1977 he hired Gary Zeller to conserve “My Arizona” and commissioned him to mold and cast new versions of the sculpture using alternate materials.
Zeller and Noguchi worked together on and off for the better part of a year. Zeller halted and removed the efflorescence, then formulated a pigmented lacquer that the sculptor applied by hand. Zeller then created a silicone mold under the artist’s direction, casting one version in fiberglass and two others using a gypsum-cement compound known as hydrostone.
Noguchi left Zeller's laboratory/workshop in 1978, taking the mold, the fiberglass version and one of the two hydrostone versions. He gifted the magnesite original and second hydrostone version to Zeller with the parting prophecy of good fortune to come.
Since then, the hydrostone version Noguchi took from Zeller’s workshop has vanished, as has the mold. The fiberglass version of "My Arizona" has joined the collection of the Noguchi Foundation as number 192 in the catalogue raisonné. The 1943 magnesite original and the second hydrostone version are now both at Rago awaiting auction.
The Foundation, which no longer authenticates, has not included either of the Zeller’s sculptures in the catalogue raisonné. It references and acknowledges the original in its cataloguing of the fiberglass version, which itself has been authenticated through first-hand association with the artist.
“Gary Zeller worked with Isamu Noguchi on conserving the original “My Arizona” and was commissioned to make a mold and duplicate it," says David Rago. “Photographs show Noguchi and Zeller at work, with Noguchi holding the hydrostone version