Hiro Narita | Isamu Noguchi: Stones and Paper

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Hiro Narita

Hiro Narita is a distinguished cinematographer, with a long list of credits in the American cinema over the last thirty years. He has also worked as director.

Isamu Noguchi: Stones and Paper

Isamu Noguchi: Stones and Paper (1997) is a documentary about the Japanese-American abstract artist Isamu Noguchi. It covers both his life and work in detail. The documentary is a classic work of art education. By its end, the viewer has come to have a deep understanding of the beautiful works of this great artist.

Hiro Narita's tone is admiring. This documentary is designed to explore and explain the work of a great artist. Its tone is remote from the snide condescension that marks and mars much modern prose biographical work. Instead, the filmmaker tries to depict the adventurous life of the artist, one that had him living in both Japan and the West, and working in many different fields of artistic activity.

The film is filled with hundreds of examples of Noguchi's art, all beautifully photographed. See the artist's work in such depth allows the viewer to begin to understand the key ideas, forms and visual patterns that underlie Noguchi's work.

We live in an age of great documentary and biographical films, many of them about major figures in the arts. However, these are largely ignored by critics today. Why do they let high quality works about great artists slip by unnoticed? It is a mystery. One possible explanation: many of these films are made for television.

There is a long tradition of alliance between film and abstract art. During the late 1920's and early 1930's, Art Deco design was brought into movies on a large scale. Art Deco was in many ways an attempt to extend the world of abstract art, especially art that was based on Constructivist use of geometric forms, into the world of architecture and design. There are hundreds of films of that era that use Art Deco for their sets and furniture.

Many abstract artists have also made films. Such moving picture abstractions are an outstanding part of film history. These films extend from the 1920's to the present day.