Atlanta's Playscapes, originally built in 1976 and recently restored with funds from Herman Miller Cares, is the only built playground in the United States by artist Isamu Noguchi. On the occasion of the reopening, critic and ARCHITECT contributor Alexandra Lange argued that the artist's ideas about play structures and playgrounds continue to influence modern spaces. "In projects from the High Line, which includes a children’s area in its recently-opened third phase, to the ubiquitous “splash pads” incorporated into center-city parks, we see Noguchi’s ideas at work," she wrote in Herman Miller's WHY Magazine.
On Saturday, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will open a new exhibition showcasing Noguchi's work in this arena. First shown at the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City last year, "Noguchi's Playscapes" includes models, archival images, and sketches of work such as a 1968 design for the 1970 Expo's U.S. Pavilion (above) and play structures for Hawaii's Ala Moana Park (below, c. 1940). "There are a few changes in the SFMOMA version," says Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher, SFMOMA's Helen Hilton Raiser curator of architecture and design, in an email. "We needed to switch out a few works because they were promised for other exhibitions, and we emphasized the connection between the playscapes and the dance sets, included the chess table + chess pieces, and brought in a selection of Paris Abstractions to underline some formal connections." The exhibition's other partners are the Fundacíon Olga y Rufino Tamayo and the Noguchi Museum in New York.
"Noguchi’s Playscapes" runs July 15 through Nov. 26, 2017 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.