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Natsu Oyobe. Exhibition Preview: 'Isamu Noguchi and Qi Baishi: Beijing 1930s'

The career and work of the American sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904-88) have long been associated with Japan and India. Few people know, however, that Noguchi lived and studied in China during the formative years between his apprenticeship with abstract sculptor Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957) in Paris in the mid-1920s and his immersion in New York’s art circles in the 1930s. ‘Isamu Noguchi and Qi Baishi: Beijing 1930’ is the first large-scale exhibition to focus on the fruits of Noguchi’s six-month stay in Beijing (Peking) from July 1930 to January 1931. There he had the remarkable opportunity to study with the ink painter Qi Baishi (1864-1957), now considered one of the most important artists of 20th century China. Noguchi’s encounter with Qi resulted in a series of more than a hundred works in ink on paper later called the Peking Drawings. When these are seen side by side with contemporary paintings by Qi Baishi –as they are for the first time in this exhibition – they reveal the importance of China in Noguchi’s artistic formation.

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