Born in the United States, Isamu Noguchi (1904 – 1988) lived in Japan until he was 13 years old, and was deeply affected by Japanese art and culture. In 1930, the artist returned to Japan to study its sculptural traditions and ceramics
Miss Expanding Universe (1932) was the first sculpture Noguchi made upon his return to the United States in 1932. In this work, he combined machine-age streamlining with characteristics of ancient Japanese funerary sculpture (haniwa).
Later that same year, the artist transformed this flowing form into a sacklike costume for the pioneering dancer and choreographer Ruth Page and her ballet, Expanding Universe.
The Financial District in Lower Manhattan is a playground for monumental public art installations, including Isamu Noguchi’s Red Cube, which was installed on the plaza at 140 Broadway Between Cedar and Liberty Streets in 1968.
The diagonal lines of red painted steel stand in contrast to the stark horizontal and vertical lines of the adjacent front of the HSBC Building (formerly the Marine Midland Bank) by architect Gordon Bunshaft. Despite its title, the sculpture is not actually a cube, but instead seems as though it has been stretched along its vertical axis.
Aside from it’s striking color, Red Cube also stands out from the surrounding architecture in that all of its lines are diagonals, whereas the buildings are made up of horizontal and vertical lines. Additionally, the sculpture is balanced somewhat precariously on one corner, while the buildings, by contrast, and solidly placed.
Through the center of the cube there is a cylindrical hole, revealing an inner surface of gray with evenly-spaced lines moving from one opening of the hole to the other. Looking through this hole, the viewer’s gaze is directed skyward, towards the building behind, tying the sculpture and the architecture together.
Red Cube is Located at 140 Broadway (at Liberty Street) New York, N.Y.10005. By Subway, Take the 4 or 5 to Wall Street Station.
Hundreds of books about Art are published every year and it’s challenging for even hardcore Art enthusiasts like me to keep track of the best ones. But I don’t think I’ve yet come across a coffee table-sized Art book that I wanted to peruse cover-to-cover for hours in the way I do Art & Place: Site-Specific Art of The Americas — a comprehensive collection of public art, due out from Phaidon Press in November, 2013.
It’s unfortunate that, due to the (understandable) copyright restrictions on the hundreds of gorgeous photographs contained in the pages of Art & Place, the publishers would only allow me to post three images from the book, because the photographs collected for this impressive publication are simply breathtaking and make Art & Place a must-own for collectors and fans alike. Whenever I travel, one of my favorite things to do is photo-documen public art; whether that be sculptures, installations, random street art or works created from and within nature. Art transforms the perception of reality in a way mere words cannot, and this book does an amazing job of both visually demonstrating and verbally relating the ways in which art elevates life. If you also enjoy photographing site-specific works of art when you visit a new city, this book is an indispensable guide to making the most of your travel experiences across the United States.
Chupinas Mesa, Charles Ross, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Anton Chico, NM, USA Star Axis, 1976–, carved rock and masonry, H: 15.85 m / 52 ft 4 Star Tunnel Aperture
Organized geographically, Art & Place is an unprecedented overview of site-specific art across North, Central and South America from 10,000 BC to the present day. This one-of-a-kind book offers an in-depth and extensive look at major works from all periods that are inextricably linked with their site. From Isamu Noguchi at Storm King Art Center, Anish Kapoor’sCloud Gate in Chicago, and Donald Judd in Marfa, to the Toltec Warriors at Tula and the Moai Statues on Easter Island, all the featured works are specifically made for, or installed in, a particular place – whether that be a landscape, an interior or an urban environment.
Pacific View Mall, Dennis Oppenheim, Ventura, CA, USA Bus Home, 2002, painted steel, acrylic, 10.9 × 15.2 × 30.5 m / 36 × 50 × 100 ft
“Art made for a specific place can be the most spectacular, uplifting and exciting art you can ever experience, and artists of the Americas have provided us with some of the most outstanding examples,” says Amanda Renshaw, editor of the book. “I’ve had the chance to visit many sites, but quickly realized that it is, unfortunately, impossible to visit them all in a single lifetime. Art sites have become increasingly popular destinations. The format of Art & Place aims to bring some of the most extraordinary examples to life and enable most of us to visit these amazing places from home.”
Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos, Alfredo Jaar, Santiago, Chile Geometry of Conscience, Plaza de la Memoria, 2010, light installation, duration: 3 mins
Works in over 60 cities – from Albuquerque to Washington, DC, and from Baja to Rio de Janeiro
170 powerful and spectacular art works from North, Central, and South America
800 large-format color images depicting the artwork in its surroundings along with a descriptive text written by a specialist
All forms of art including carving and painting, murals and frescos, mosaics, altarpieces, tapestries, integral sculpture, stained glass, earthworks, land art and more
Renowned artists such as Richard Serra and John Sargent, Donald Judd and Henry Moore, alongside art created by ancient civilizations, Colonial settlers and 19th Century muralists
Maps pinpointing the location of sites and specially commissioned plans show the layout of complex sites
With the holidays coming up, I can’t think of a more appropriate gift for the Art lover in your life than Art & Place: Site-Specific Art of The Americas (Approx. 368 Pages; Approx. 800 Color Illustrations), available as a Hard Cover collectible for just $79.95. Phaidon books are available at all major bookstores and retailers worldwide, as well as online at This Link!
When I find myself in what I would call a “Destination Neighborhood” – meaning an area that I wouldn’t normally be in except for a planned visit to a specific site or event – I always try to do as much as possible in that locale before returning home, because I probably won’t be going back any time soon. And so it happened that when Geoffrey and I made the haul out to Long Island City to visit the Socrates Sculpture Park, we also walked just a few blocks up Vernon Blvd to the Noguchi Museum, which Geoffrey had pegged as a stop well worth making. As usual, he was right on.
Here is a little background on Noguchi from his Wikipedia entry, in case you are unfamiliar with his work. Isamu Noguchi was a prominent Japanese American artist and landscape architect whose artistic career spanned six decades, from the 1920s onward. Known for his sculpture and public works, Noguchi also designed stage sets for various Martha Graham productions, and several mass-produced lamps and furniture pieces, some of which are still manufactured and sold.
In 1947, Noguchi began a collaboration with the Herman Miller company, when he joined with George Nelson, Paul László and Charles Eames to produce a catalog containing what is often considered to be the most influential body of modern furniture ever produced, including the iconic Noguchi table which remains in production today.
The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum is devoted to the preservation, documentation, presentation, and interpretation of Noguchi’s work. It is the first Museum in America established by a living artist of his own work, and it contains the world’s richest holdings of Noguchi’s art.
The Museum honors and preserves Noguchi’s minimalist design aesthetic, exhibiting a core group of works for permanent viewing, with other works on rotation. It’s amazing how the museum was designed to display his sculptures in the most appropriate setting, which includes a semi-open main floor plan, a gorgeous green Sculpture Garden and several floors of pristine stone and wood floor galleries that serve to make Noguchi’s sculptures seem as if they are in their perfect, organic surroundings.
The layout of the museum definitely enhanced our enjoyment of the art and of the visit experience overall.
Isamu Noguchi passed away on December 30, 1988, at the age of 84, but his work lives on in this fantastic museum that is a must-see for lovers of art and design.
The Noguchi Museum is Located at 9-01 33rd Road (at Vernon Boulevard), Long Island City, NY 11106. Hours are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Saturday & Sunday: 11:00 AM -6:00 PM, Closed Monday & Tuesday. Visit This Link for complete information including travel directions by car and subway, and admission prices.