Summer in New York City drives people to find creative escapes from the heat. Fellow ArtNetie Nina Borgmann and I, in our own quest for cool, decided on a trip to the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum on Long Island City, Queens. With just a 20 minute subway ride (air-conditioned I might add) and a leisurely visit to the museum and garden, we found cool success.
The museum building, which Noguchi first started using as his warehouse in 1975, now holds a retrospective of his life's work. The inside is cool and serene with natural light flowing in through the many windows (not unlike a temple or 15th century monastary).
Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) was a Japanese-American artist. He was perhaps best known for his stone and marble sculptures, which are placed throughout the museum. Of special interest is the sculpture garden on the first floor. Arranged by the artist himself, Noguchi's sculptures stand in harmony with their natural surroundings.
The second floor of the museum lays bare the extent of Noguchi's genius. As a designer as well as an artist he meant many things to different groups of people. Rooms hold his portrait sculptures, Akari paper lamps, set designs for dancer/choreographer Martha Graham and sculptures from his earlier days as a student under Constantin Brancusi. Large black and white photos of monumental projects (such as Bay Front Park, Miami) and sculptures on view around the world prove that he is an international artist.
There are also bronze cast models of unrealized projects and landscapes. (New Yorkers take note: included in these projects are plans for an amphitheater and a children's playground on the west side.)
Noguchi was a bit of a loner, choosing to remain out of the gallery network. Perhaps for that reason he is not as well known as many of his contemporaries. It is worth the trip to LIC during any season to discover a great artist and his work.
Visit the museum on the web or in person. For directions to the museum call 718/204 7088. The museum is accessable by subway and on weekends by shuttle bus.
ALLISON O'MAHONY is member of the ArtNet webteam and will be a graduate student at New York University in the fall.