Melania Trump announced on Friday that a work by sculptor Isamu Noguchi will be installed in the White House rose garden, a gift to the national collection that would be the first work by an Asian-American artist to be included.
The sculpture, “Floor Frame” by Noguchi in 1962, highlights “the beautiful contributions of Asian-American artists to the landscape of our country,” Ms. Trump said in a statement.
Noguchi, one of the most acclaimed modern American artists, became a political activist after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, fighting racism and raising awareness of the patriotism of Japanese Americans and spending time voluntarily in a center of relocation to Arizona.
Brett Littman, director of the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and the Garden Museum in Long Island City, Queens, described the placement of the sculpture in the White House Rose Garden as a milestone.
“Unfortunately, this comes at a complicated time,” he said, citing the elections. “But the key for us is that this will be on display in perpetuity in the White House. Administrations come and go, but works of art remain. We feel proud and we think Noguchi would feel proud as well. “
Noguchi, born in Los Angeles and died in 1988, considered the black patina and the bronze coin, cast in two parts, to be the intersection of a tree and the ground. This reflects the qualities of both an implied root system and a tree’s canopy, Ms. Trump’s office said in a statement.
President Trump, unlike his predecessors, has at times refused to unequivocally condemn the internment camps in which Noguchi spent time. Asked in 2015, before his election, if he would have supported the internment of Japanese Americans, he replied, “I hate the concept of this one. But I should have been there at the time to give you the correct answer.
Noguchi’s stay in the Arizona resettlement center was explored by the Noguchi Museum in an exhibit, “Self-Interned, 1942” in 2017. Noguchi’s sculptures, some made during his detention, were accompanied by letters and documents that shed light on his unsuccessful efforts to humanize the camps. New York Times critic Jason Farago called the exhibit both “enlightening” and “discouragingly relevant.”
Noguchi had been exempted from an executive order that allowed the military to round up Japanese Americans in California, Oregon and Washington state, as he lived in New York.
But he had sought during his stay there to redevelop the Poston War Relocation Center near the Arizona-California border, the largest of the camps. Instead of a location defined by his barbed wire fences, he envisioned a school, community center, botanical garden, and even a miniature golf course all in one shot, though his grand plan never came to fruition. executed. This work was auctioned at Sotheby’s in March and was purchased by the White House Historical Association, a private, non-profit organization that donated the sculpture to the White House.
“While powerful in itself, Floor Frame has a modest scale and complements the authority of the Oval Office,” the White House said in a statement.