Stone Spirit at the Art Institute

by | Everyday Life in the Nature Realms

Among my respected spirit friends at Chicago’s Art Institute is this three-part basalt sculpture called Islands. It is by Izumi Masatoshi, the Japanese artist and stone cutter. He did all of Isamu Noguchi’s stone cuttings from the mid 1960s until Noguchi’s death in 1988. This is one of Masatoshi’s own pieces.

Stone and Staircase at Art Institute


The Japanese culture has great reverence for nature and large segments of their art is based on their resonance with various natural elements. 

The Artists

Isumi Masatoshi sculptures

In some of their work, Masatoshi and the American-born Noguchi focus on the natural beauty of stone.

Their striking abstract pieces are profoundly delicate yet powerfully respectful of the spirit inside the stone.

Noguchi was strongly influenced by the Italian sculptor Constantin Brancusi and that artistic sensibility is also strongly present in both Noguchi and Masatoshi’s works.

The Art Work

This three-part stone statement has been in the Art Institute’s collection since 2000. It resides beneath a gracefully curved staircase that links two floors and several exhibit areas.

Close Up of Sculpture


I have been visiting with my friends here since the art work went on display. I have enjoyed how the various architectural and stone energies, which I found at one time incongruous and uncertain in their sharing of this space, have gradually blended. The artistic statement is now totally unified.

Nature Spirits

This is an abstract piece that has emerged from natural basalt. Its own inherent rock spirit, still strongly present, has grown over time. The front section now has several manifested images. You can see a face on the front, with a long slanted eye. The second is a smaller face, peaceful and detached, that has formed on the left side of the front stone.


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