Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pilgrimage to Isamu Noguchi's Museum

As soon as one enters the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, you are enfolded into a unique environment that is indoor-outdoor, a building/garden/landscape totality.  "My view is that sculpture is the art which can only be appreciated in the raw, relative to man's motion, to time's passage, and to its constantly changing situation.  The photographs in this catalogue make reference to sculptures which may be experienced only by visiting the museum," says Noguchi in his book.  He created the museum from a triangular factory building in Queens, New York, making it into an environment where the iconic magical quality of his work is experienced in the moment.  It is not a conventional museum. It is a meditation.

Looking through the glass doors of the lobby into the galleries:

 The garden is a presence from inside many of the rooms: 

The sculptures remain where Noguchi, who died in 1988, placed them.  Their placement seems integral to the ceiling beams, angles of lighting from windows, shadows, and each other.

The concrete floors and white brick walls are a perfect setting, forming a natural habitat for nature's materials.  The marks of the chisel in some pieces are palpable and immediate.  He says "No erasing or reproduction is possible, at least not in the way I now work, leaving nature's mark.  It is unique and final."

There were many works in wood, metal, clay, and  brush painting as well.

Noguchi was also involved with stage sets for Martha Graham and furniture design, especially lighting. He refused to be categorized.  The son of a Japanese poet and an Irish American writer and editor, he lived in Japan, the United States, and Europe, and traveled throughout Asia.  After Pearl Harbor he formed Nisei Writers and Artists for Democracy.  

It was an unforgettable pilgrimage, to be savored for a long time...

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