Monday, November 9, 2009


It was a beautiful weekend in New York, and I took the opportunity to take a long walk to the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City.

Isamu Noguchi was a prolific artist, furniture designer, landscape designer, set designer and 20th century man of the world.  He studied with Brancusi in Paris, lived in Tokyo, New York, LA, Beijing, and Mexico, among other places.   Some of my favorite public art in New York belongs to Noguchi.  His studio in Queens was converted to a museum by the artist himself in the 1980's and recently underwent a massive renovation that closed the doors for years.  I hadn't been since I was in college.

The garden is simple and wonderful.

My favorite thing in the garden was this fountain.  I sat with it for an hour.  So peaceful.

Noguchi did set design for several Martha Graham productions.  This piece, created for the 1958 performance entitled Embattled Garden, is meant to symbolize an apple.

Here is a model for a playground he designed, in bronze.  When I was doing my thesis project in college-- an elementary school converted from an abandoned German social club on the Bowery-- I studied Noguchi's playground design along with Howard Gardener's theory of multiple intelligences, Christopher Alexander's super hippy-dippy but wonderful Timeless Way of Building, and the layout and design of my grandmother's house, which was a fantastic laboratory of educational fun.  Being at the museum brought me back to those days when I had so much time to think about things.  What a luxury.

This piece is just brilliant.  Anything with stone and water makes me happy, apparently.  Imagine a flower floating in one of those depressions.  Sigh.

Noguchi is best known in the design world for his paper lantern lights, copied the world over and available in rip-off form at Pier 1 and CostPlus (we have an authorized reproduction in our apartment from the museum).  Here, however, was a very special 1944 light sculpture entitled Lunar Infant.  I didn't remember this from my last visit, and it was a great surprise.

Find out more about the Noguchi Museum here.

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