30 March 2010

Eames' Portrait of Isamu Noguchi & Shirley Yamaguchi

A photograph taken by Charles and Ray Eames will be available for auction through Wright20. I've examined an extensive range of photographs and portraits of Isamu Noguchi and have never seen this image published or available online previously.

Isamu and Shirley are shown standing outside the Eames House in Pacific Palisades, California. The house is an amazing work of art, a modernist box of glass and steel informed by a wide range of influences including neoplasticism, Japanese design, and indigenous cultures the world over.

Noguchi and the Eameses seem to have had a fruitful relationship personally and professionally. This photograph (from the Library of Congress) taken by Charles features Isamu Noguchi, Shirley Yamaguchi, Charlie Chaplin, Charles Eames and others at a Japanese tea ceremony held at the Eames house.

The wire base side table depicted in the photograph was designed by Ray and Charles Eames for Herman Miller in 1950. According to the product sheet that came in the box:
Practical in so many milieus, the tables gave the Eameses the perfect place to serve chanoyu, the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, to special guests, such as sculptor Isamu Noguchi and film star Charlie Chaplin.
The portait of Isamu and Shirley standing outside appears to have been taken on another occasion since Noguchi and his wife are dressed more formally in the tea ceremony image.

There have been other images including them together at the Eames home, including some taken by Noguchi himself. For example, a series of negatives in the Charles and Ray Eames Collection of Library of Congress includes series images attributed to Noguchi as photographer. These images are dated 24 July 1951.

This series appears to have been exposed at the same event as the larger one above (including Charles and Isamu) that is attributed to Charles Eames. The first three of this series seems to show the entire group attending the tea ceremony (less Isamu). The fourth and fifth images include Charlie Chaplin and Shirley Yamaguchi. The final image is a close-up of Chaplin clowning around with a fan.


  1. Famous furniture designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Arne Jacobsen, Isamu Noguchi,Wegner and many more have contributed in luxurious designs which are decorating our houses these days.

  2. See many other pictures and information about the Noguchi and Yamaguchi marriage (1952-1956) at this site:


Your comment will be reviewed and approved if appropriate, civil, and relevant.