Seeing the opportunity to use his extraordinary position as a human bridge between Japan and the United States, Isamu Noguchi — after completing his design for the bridges to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park — was invited in 1951 to design the park’s centerpiece, a cenotaph to the dead. Unfortunately, the political will and funds never materialized and the project was never carried out.
Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) was one of the 20th century's most significant sculptors, yet his resolute redefinition of the art form led to a practice spanning gardens, playgrounds, public projects, furniture, lighting, and set design. He believed strongly in the social role of art and dedicated much of his life to creating public works such as parks, plazas, and fountains. Born in Los Angeles to a white American mother and a Japanese father, Noguchi felt a lifelong sense of never really belonging anywhere, and channeled this into his artistic vision and philosophy, aspiring to be a citizen of the world. Noguchi’s first retrospective in the United States was in 1968 at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. In 1985, Noguchi opened the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, now known as The Noguchi Museum, in Long Island City, New York. In 1986, he represented the United States at the Venice Biennale. In accordance with his wishes, his studio in Mure, Japan, became the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum Japan in 1999. Noguchi received the Edward MacDowell Medal for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to the Arts in 1982; the Kyoto Prize in Arts in 1986; the National Medal of Arts in 1987; and the Order of the Sacred Treasure from the Japanese government in 1988.