Noguchi Museum Presents Work by Spanish Sculptor Jorge Palacios

. July 27, 2018

The Noguchi Museum presents the work of Spanish sculptor Jorge Palacios with an exhibition of works that explore the formal and conceptual potential of physics and motion in sculpture. In so doing, they shed light on what R. Buckminster Fuller called Isamu Noguchi’s intuitive grasp of the underlying structures of nature and his habit of incorporating those insights into his conception of sculpture. Jorge Palacios at The Noguchi Museum will include nine works in the Museum’s ground-floor galleries and garden. A large-scale public monument will also be installed on Manhattan’s Flatiron Plaza North.

Noguchi Museum Senior Curator Dakin Hart says, “Jorge Palacios’s beautifully engineered abstractions are a terrific prism through which to view Noguchi’s way of playing with nature in the cause of strengthening the connections between the planet we have and the world we make. Like Noguchi, Palacios is an idealist. The implicity and directness with which he models the physical universe, from the atom to the hurricane, will remind you of what it was like to learn physics on the merry-go-round and the swing.”

Museum Exhibition
Jorge Palacios at The Noguchi Museum includes nine works installed in three of the Museum’s indoor galleries and its sculpture garden. While all of the sculptures are made of wood, Palacios is not, in fact, interested in exploring wood per se, but rather in how he can use it to articulate the laws of nature. To do this, he has spent the last twenty years learning to make wood seem to flow.

One of the indoor galleries contains five works concerned with fluid dynamics at different scales. Flowing Drop (2017) and Trajectory (2015) derive form from the ways that fluids move and affect motion. Others look at larger forces, such as those that produce hurricanes and whirlpools. Continuous Vortex (2011), for example, explores the shape of the self-reinforcing circulation of air in a tornado.

Another gallery contains a single new kinetic sculpture that puts mass into motion. Okiagari-Koboshi (2018) is named for, and based on the same principles of physics as, a traditional Japanese doll that cannot be knocked down. Like that doll, and the later Hasbro toy called a Weeble, Palacios’s 5.5-foot-tall sculpture, with which visitors are encouraged to play, challenges our intuitive understanding of the way things work. Few sculptors have done more than Noguchi to expand the practice of sculpture beyond static things that inertly occupy museum pedestals and corporate plazas. With Okiagari-Koboshi, explicitly following the example of Noguchi’s playground sculptures, Palacios has wandered onto the field of play.

Okiagari-Koboshi is complemented by a group of plaster maquettes from the mid-1960s that Noguchi made while thinking about playgrounds, as well as one for Red Cube, which appears to balance on one point on the plaza in front of 140 Broadway in Lower Manhattan.

In other galleries, Palacios’s work is integrated into the Museum’s permanent installation of sculptures by Noguchi. One work, Balance and Inertia (2011), a 6.5-foot pierced wooden disc, conveys the vertical balance a spinning coin achieves so long as its rotational energy is enough to offset gravity. The Singularity of the Curve (2017), also in this gallery, reifies the mathematics that underlie the interaction between the gravitational force that two massive bodies (here, the sculpture’s end blocks) exert on each other.

Finally, Palacios’s Weightless Movement (2018) is suspended from a branch of the central Katsura tree in the Museum’s sculpture garden. The pointedly oxymoronic title (which faintly recalls Noguchi’s 1961 exhibition of cut-and-folded aluminum and carved balsa wood sculptures entitled “Weightlessness”) reminds us that mass is a precondition of motion. A nearly 2.5-foot-long teak column with a hole near the bottom, Weightless Movement is a playful effort to raise our conception of the mass of Noguchi’s rock garden into the air.

Link (2018) is a monumental work, measuring approximately 13 feet high by 10 feet wide, that will be installed in Manhattan’s Flatiron Plaza North, across from the Flatiron Building and adjacent to Madison Square Park. Informed by Noguchi’s public works and intended to serve as a focal point for civic life, it explores the relationship between scale and public engagement through proportionality with its setting and integration into the urban fabric. Link will be installed from August 16 through November 6, 2018.

Jorge Palacios at The Noguchi Museum is supported by Porcelanosa and the Consulate General of Spain in New York. The exhibition is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council and from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

The installation of the sculpture Link is made possible thanks to the collaboration of the New York City Department of Transportation’s Art Program and the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership.

Jorge Palacios
Jorge Palacios’s sculptures have been widely shown in public spaces, including in SoHo, in New York City, where he exhibited Sketch in the Air (2015), which was selected by Artnet as one of the ten most interesting public art works to see in Manhattan; in front of the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, at the Floridablanca Sculpture Gardens, and in the “Torres de Colón” building, in Madrid; and, as part of an exhibition of his urban sculptures in the streets of Toledo, at that city’s Sun Gate, Bisagra Gate, and Santa Cruz Art Museum. His work has also been exhibited in numerous museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts of Guadalajara, the Santa Cruz Art Museum, and the Mirador Hall of the Thyssen-Bornemisza, in Madrid, and it may be found in public and private collections in Canada, Switzerland, Spain, and the United States.

Palacios divides his time between his studio in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City and his workshop in Spain.

About The Noguchi Museum
Founded in 1985 by Isamu Noguchi (1904–88), one of the leading sculptors and designers of the twentieth century, The Noguchi Museum was the first museum in America to be established, designed, and installed by a living artist to show his or her own work. Widely viewed as among the artist’s greatest achievements, the Museum comprises ten indoor galleries in a converted factory building, as well as an internationally acclaimed outdoor sculpture garden. Since its founding, it has served as an international hub for Noguchi research and appreciation. In addition to housing the artist’s archives and the catalogue raisonné of his work, the Museum exhibits a comprehensive selection of sculpture, models for public projects and gardens, dance sets, and his Akari light sculptures. Provocative, frequently-changing installations drawn from the permanent collection, together with diverse special exhibitions related to Noguchi and the milieu in which he worked, offer a rich, contextualized view of Noguchi’s art and illuminate his enduring influence as a category-defying, multicultural, cross-disciplinary innovator.

The Noguchi Museum is located at 9-01 33rd Road (at Vernon Boulevard), Long Island City, New York. It is open Wednesday–Friday, 10 am–5 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 11 am–6 pm. General admission is $10; $5 for seniors and students with a valid ID. New York City public high-school students, children under 12, and Museum members are admitted free of charge. Admission is free on the first Friday of every month. Public tours in English are available daily at 2 pm, and in Japanese on the first Friday and second Sunday of every month. 718.204.7088 | | @noguchimuseum

About NYC DOT Art
Launched in October 2008, the New York City Department of Transportation’s Art Program invigorates the City’s streetscapes with engaging temporary art installations. The Program partners with community-based organizations and artists to present murals, sculptures, projections and performances on plazas, fences, barriers, bridges and sidewalks for up to 11 months.

Projects are presented within four program tracks: Arterventions, Barrier Beautification, Community Commissions and Art Display Case.

About the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership
The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District, formed in 2006, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enhance the area’s reputation as one of New York’s most vital and exciting neighborhoods. This is accomplished by maintaining a clean and safe environment for the district’s businesses, residents and visitors; by spearheading area improvement projects; and by marketing the diverse business and retail options in this vibrant and historic neighborhood.


Jorge Palacios, Link, 2018.

Category: Fine Art

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