An Oasis of Art | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian

An Oasis of Art

Long Island City's best-kept secret, the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum offers a rare insight into the sculptor's work

Smithsonian Magazine | Subscribe

"Through gardens I came to a deeper awareness of nature and of stone," wrote the protean sculptor Isamu Noguchi. "The natural boulders of hard stone—basalt, granite, and the like—which I now use are a congealment of time.... These are private sculptures, a dialogue between myself and the primary matter of the universe."

 Noguchi first came to Long Island City in 1960 to be closer to the cluster of stone suppliers in the neighborhood as well as to set up a spacious studio and living quarters. In time he acquired a two-story redbrick photoengraving plant, which he renovated, expanded and eventually turned into the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum.

An integrated expression of one of the 20th century's most elegant and creative spirits, the complex, designed by Noguchi himself, opened in 1985. The garden, which combines American and Japanese plantings as a symbol of Noguchi's dual heritage, provides an artful setting for his lyrical stone sculptures. Each of the geometric, light-filled galleries showcases a different period of the artist's prolific, 64-year career. Together the garden and galleries, which merge into a unified exhibition space for the more than 250 works on view, reveal the range and richness of a lifetime's work in shaping stone, clay, wood, metal, earth, water, space and light itself.

Open April through October, the museum is just a short trip across the 59th Street Bridge from midtown Manhattan. For information, call 718-721-1932 or go to www.noguchi.org.

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus