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Noguchi -- Contoured Playground, 1941

Isamu Noguchi demonstrating proposed playground equipment intended for a park in Hawaii, but unrealized.


The cast plaster model tilted up against the wall represents his 1941 proposal for a contoured playground proposed for a portion of Central Park in New York City. This design was created in reaction to earlier comments that his playground equipment designs would be dangerous to children. His 1933 design for Play Mountain was similarly dismissed by officials in New York.



1941, unrealized


"I felt obliged to answer all the dire warnings of the danger to which I would expose small children with my play equipment and so designed a Contoured Playground. This would be proof against any serious accidents, being made of entirely earth modulations. Exercise was to be derived automatically in running up and down the curved surfaces. There were various areas of interest, for hiding, for sliding, for games. Water would flow in the summer."

-- Isamu Noguchi


In dealing with the landscape, Noguchi was completely comfortable working in an abstract, surreal, ahistorical language at this point in time (1941). Following his seven months in Poston, Arizona (Japanese American Relocation Center from May to November 1942), he began to more vigorously pursue this sort of formal language in a wider range of works.


Archival image.

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Taken on December 9, 2006