Friday, March 21, 2014

Isamu Noguchi and Qi Baishi; art expedition to Frye Museum

Today was an art expedition to the Frye Museum in Seattle.  One of the current exhibits is Isamu Noguchi and Qi Baishi, two artists who met in China and were both influential.  To quote from the Frye webpage:

"Comprising drawings, ink paintings, calligraphic works, and sculptures from the University of Michigan Museum of Art, the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, and private and public collections, it [the exhibit] presents thirty-one works by Noguchi and twenty-five by Qi Baishi.  The exhibition and its accompanying publication document the period of six months that Noguchi spent in Beijing and shed new light on the little-known relationship between the two artists."

I was especially glad to have my studio mate, Karen Dedrickson, along.  She is a sumi painter and is very knowledgeable about the techniques used in these works.  And she's wonderful at sharing her knowledge.  This was my first trip to the Frye and I am glad to have finally visited.  It is a lovely small museum with free parking in an area where parking can be a significant challenge.

One of my main reasons for going was the review in the Seattle Times which showed the picture above.  Since I am now struggling with how to show energy flow in my art, I wanted to see this piece and others like it in person.  The piece, Mother and Child, is life size which is not at all apparent when seen in a review like this.  There were several other pieces by Noguchi using this technique with varying effect.  Karen and Jeff pointed out that some of them were calligraphy done large, something more obvious to those familiar with Chinese characters.

Noguchi learned brushwork from Qi Baishi and the pieces by Baishi show that he was a teacher well worth learning from.  

The exhibit runs through May 25.  I recommend it to anyone who appreciates the spareness of sumi work and is interested in major influences in the early 20th Century art world.