Art/Design, News & Events

Futura hand-paints Akari light sculptures, new exhibition at the Noguchi Museum

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Nov 20, 2020

The American graffiti artist, Leonard Hilton McGurr, known as Futura, and formerly known as Futura 2000, is unveiling hand-painted light sculptures at the Noguchi Museum. These modular works were designed by the late influential sculptor, Isamu Noguchi.


The artist is returning with a special presentation that will be taking place at the Noguchi Museum in Queens. Futura is an influential graffiti writer and contemporary artist and in this presentation he will showcase a selection of hand-painted Akari light sculptures designed by Isamu Noguchi from between 1952 and 1986.


The Akari lamps have inspired people to contribute towards what Noguchi calls the self-generative cycle. Owning one of these lamps is akin to tending a garden and a way to stay in touch with nature. The curator of the show, Dakin Hart, selected Futura due to the artist’s reputation and his experience with graffiti and contemporary art.


Back in 1951, Isamu Noguchi traveled to Hiroshima in Japan where he got inspired to create the Akari light lamps. There, he observed paper-like lanterns that were illuminated and called chochin, they lined the river of the town of Gifu. The mayor of the town asked Noguchi to revitalize the lantern industry and offered him a commission to create lanterns. Noguchi used the term Akari, which is a Japanese word that means “light,” in order to label his light sculptures. They were intended to be customizable and extensible and he designed over 200 models in his lifetime.


The Noguchi Museum hosted a limited capacity print release and book signing event to commemorate the Rizzoli publication of FUTURA: The Artist’s Monograph alongside the exhibition yesterday.

The exhibition will be on view through February 28, 2021. Visit Noguchi Museum’s official website to reserve tickets.


Photo via Noguchi Museum/Miss Wangy