Combine Martha Graham, founder of modern dance, with artist Isamu Noguchi – and you get stage sets. Over the course of three decades, Noguchi designed about 20 sets for Graham, including the most famous Appalachian Spring (1944) and those for her series based on Greek myths as well as works revolving around biblical and religious themes, including Judith (1950).
This form was created as a stage set for Judith, one of three bronze casts made from the balsawood original that appeared on stage. Noguchi’s sculpture of four rigid bronze forms create a skeletal tent with two interlocking diagonal beams the serve as the tent’s opening and a single horizontal beam as the tent’s top edge. This support was covered with a scarf during the performance of the dance.
Symbolically, Noguchi used the ends of the forms to suggest the story. The pointed tops suggest of spears of the Assyrian army – as well as Holofernes’ phallic desire for Judith. The snake-like form of the diagonal – with a gaping mouth, sharp fangs, and bulging eyes – suggests danger lies within the tent. (1)
Apparently, Holofernes missed that cue.