“Toward a Transnational Approach to American Art: Isamu Noguchi in India and Beyond”

February 24, 2021
Online dialogue

Katy Siegel (Thaw Endowed Chair in Modern American Art, Stony Brook University and Senior Research Curator, Baltimore Museum of Art) and Devika Singh (Curator, International Art, Tate Modern) locate American artists within transnational art histories, beginning with an examination of Isamu Noguchi’s artworks made in India. Through examining Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi’s artworks made in India, Devika Singh reconsiders transnational narratives that have traditionally been told from a Western viewpoint and reasserted the power of established art centers as places of intermixing and transculturality. Singh will instead draw on the impact of mobility and circulation to foreground a transnationally reconfigured history of art in India.

Katy Siegel argues that “taking off the cold war lens,” a perspective central to the exhibition Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945-1965 (Haus der Kunst, 2016–17), has significant implications for the study of US art history. It renders visible artists who disdained a singular allegiance to America. In turn, attention to figures such as Noguchi—including Joan Mitchell, Ed Clark, Toshiko Takaezu, Melvin Edwards, and Alfonso Ossorio— has implication for the field, suggesting the significance for US art history of transnational, regional, and diasporic experience.

Together, the speakers seek to overcome conventional dialectics and point toward more complex and various allegiances, encounters, and histories, whether in considering the transnational art histories of India or the United States.

This dialogue is organized by the Terra Foundation for American Art.