Isamu Noguchi was one of the most influential American designers, sculptors, and landscape architects of the twentieth century. The Noguchi Museum in Long Island City has been the premier repository for his collected works since its opening. The artist designed the museum, which opened three years before his death in 1988, and is considered one of his most important achievements. The permanent collection, the associated gardens, and the rotating exhibitions all focus on his lasting achievements.
What You Will See
The two-story building, which the artists once used as a studio and office, contains a surprising amount of gallery space filled with some of Noguchi's most impressive sculptures, designs, and other artwork. Rotating exhibitions are hosted upstairs, exploring different aspects of Noguchi's career, including his collaborations with contemporary artists. Be sure to take time to step into the gardens which also were designed by the artist, a renowned landscape architect.
Why You Should Go
Even if you don't know his name, you have seen Noguchi's work, either in one of the many museums which feature him or in one of his many public and corporate installations. Or you have seen his influence in the works of designers inspired by his revolutionary ideas. But nowhere else will you see as much Noguchi in a single location as in his beautiful museum. And even if you aren't necessarily a fan of his work, his designs for the building and the surrounding gardens are worth the price of admission.
Artist and choreographer Brendan Fernandes has selected pieces from the museum's permanent collection which he feels best to reflect Noguchi's attempts to conform design to the realities of the human body. With a collection of furniture, sculpture, set designs, and abstractions, see the many ways in which Noguchi related his designs to the human form.
Among Isamu Noguchi's many projects was an ongoing effort to design the perfect ashtray. While uncommon in contemporary America, at the height of Noguchi's career in the 40s and 50s the ashtray was central to American society. This exhibit looks at Noguchi's various designs from a wide selection of materials and motivations. With few designers working in the medium of ashtrays today, it is truly a unique look back at a design challenge.
Idlewild Airport (now known as JFK) invited contemporary artists from across America to submit designs for a monumental sculpture as part of the construction of a new International Arrivals Building in 1956. Isamu Noguchi submitted a proposal for a large column. While not selected, the proposed artwork is impressive, as cataloged in this fascinating exhibit.