Where We Are

Solo en Inglès

Hear directly from artists and curators on selected works from Where We Are.

Abstract sculpture of flat interlocking pieces of stone

Isamu Noguchi, Humpty Dumpty, 1946. Ribbon slate, 59 × 20 3/4 × 17 1/2in. (149.9 × 52.7 × 44.5 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; purchase 47.7a-e © 2017 The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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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