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Narrator: Isamu Noguchi composed this 1946 sculpture out of flat interlocking pieces of stone, held together without pins or adhesives. The work is made out of ribbon slate, a stone that breaks easily. A sense of fragility is also evoked by the work’s title, Humpty Dumpty, the children’s nursery rhyme that ends with this well-known verse: “and all the king’s horses, and all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty back together again.” Walk around the sculpture. Notice how Noguchi fits the pieces of stone together—hanging some, balancing and propping up others. They remain in a dynamic state of tension.  

Noguchi himself has stated that the fragility of the work mirrors the impermanence of life. He compared his interlocking sculptures to Japanese poetry or cherry blossoms, stating that perfection can “only be transient—a fragile beauty is more potent.”


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