ISSUE 43  |  Lessons from Japan

10 Easy Pieces: Noguchi Style Sculpture and Rocks

October 28, 2014 4:00 PM

BY Cheryl Locke

No offense to gnomes or pagodas, but for something more profound in your garden, consider an abstract sculpture in the style of Isamu Noguchi. The midcentury artist, perhaps most famous for designing an amoeba shaped coffee table, often used the medium of stone to explore dualities–such as weight and weightlessness, nature and civilization–and the relationship of objects to a whole.  “I like to think of gardens as a sculpturing of space,” he said.

The wonderful thing about placing an abstract sculpture or a particularly interesting rock in your landscape is that it will give your eyes a serene place to rest. And, depending on the form, it might provide a place to sit, find shade, or set your picnic. Here are 10 three-dimensional works (including some one-of-a-kind pieces) worth taking out of the gallery and into your garden: 

Above: A moment of serenity in Long Island City, home of the Noguchi Museum, which the artist, who often worked on public spaces, built and designed himself. 

Above: And let’s pause for another moment to admire the real thing. Many of Noguchi’s pieces are available on the secondary art market. We spotted a 1983 galvanized steel piece titled Kaki-Persimmons on 1st Dibs, numbered 5/26, for $32,000. (Price check: Another Kaki-Persimmons piece, numbered 14/26, sold for $10,800 at auction in 2008 at Bonhams.)

Above: Brooklyn-based AMMA Studio‘s end tables and tables made of rock crystals, silica, cement, and coffee grounds (not a typo) are works of art. For pricing and availability, see AMMA Studio.

Above: Artist David Therriault creates abstract garden sculptures such as this made of granite. For more information and prices, contact Alden Farms.  

Above: If this reminds you of a rustic pez dispenser, that was artist Nicole Wermers’ intention. Smaller versions are available for £275 from art marketplace Zabludowicz. For the original, pictured here, see NWermers

Above: Matthew Chambers, a British sculptor who studied at London’s Royal College of Art, turns clay into pinwheels and vortexes. Inquire about prices and availability here.

Above: Soma Stones by Concrete Works in Oakland were modeled after real stones and available in various widths from 42 to 60 inches (they’re big enough to sit on). For more information and prices, see Concrete Works

Above: A 15-inch-high Low Concrete Seat is $495 from Mecox Gardens.

Above: Lava Stone Spheres are speckled and no two stones are alike. They range in size and price, from 5 inches ($31) to 11.5 inches ($80), at Restoration Hardware.

Above: Visit a rock quarry to find your own Noguchi-esque piece at an affordable price. Pictured here, the stone yard at The Stone Store in Harmans, Maryland.

Above: From Australian artist Jamie North, The Inconstant Ones, columns of limestone, cement, and marble waste with Spanish moss are available at Sarah Cottier Gallery

For more of our favorite ways to incorporate stone and rocks into garden designs, see: