"Akari E"

Designer: Isamu Noguchi (American, Los Angeles, California 1904–1988 New York)

Manufacturer: Ozeki & Co., Ltd.

Date: designed ca. 1951

Medium: Mulberry bark paper, bamboo, wire

Dimensions: H. 9 ft. 6 in. × Diam. 18 7/8 in. (289.6 × 47.9 cm)

Classification: Lighting

Credit Line: Gift of Daniel Wolf, in memory of Diane R. Wolf, 1990

Accession Number: 1990.74


The interlocking geometric shapes of this hanging lamp evoke traditional Japanese lanterns. In the early 1950s Noguchi traveled to the Japanese town of Gifu, whose mayor requested the widely respected American sculptor to help revive the dying lamp-making industry for which the town traditionally was known; its craftsmen had been reduced to providing cheap, painted-silk party decorations. The name Akari, which is Japanese for "light," suggests Noguchi's intention to create luminous sculptures that were also practical sources of illumination, underlining the close relationship between art and design.