Friday, July 14, 2017

The Noguchi Museum

I first visited the Isamu Noguchi Museum in Long Island City around 1985.  The museum had opened on a limited basis, and I was sent there to do photographs of the museum and sculptures.  I was stunned by what I saw!  There is a simplicity, and a brilliance to so many of his pieces.  Isamu Noguchi worked in stone and marble and wood and metal, among other things.  This particular piece, called "Night Wind" stunned me on that day, and its impact has stayed with me ever since. And it appears to be simplicity itself.  It is a long piece of polished basalt with a square cross section, with a slight twist to it.  But then both ends are left ragged.  I needed to put the center of my palm on one of the sharp corners then, and now.  I cannot explain that. It was wonderful to see this piece, and to enjoy the entire museum once again.  Please click on each of these photographs to see them in more detail.

I came to this visit yesterday at the invitation of my friends Stan and his wife Ann.  She is a docent at the Met and a small group of Met docents was able to arrange a tour of the museum and they invited me to join them.  Here is the group with our guide, in the sculpture garden outside the buildings which make up the galleries.

This is another favorite piece, titled "Planet in Transit 1."  It seems simple enough, but I cannot begin to explain its power over me.  It just seems like brilliant idea.

This piece, which a visitor is carefully examining is titled "Yellow Landscape."  It is made out of Magnesite, wood, string, and metal fishing weight.  How does he think of these things?

A number of his pieces are made from stone that have been machined in various ways.  I was taken by the "eyes" in this piece, called "Break Through Capastrano."  I think it's the human likeness because of the eyes that resonates in some way with me.  So much of our emotional response to art is a mystery, at least for me.

When I first saw this fountain I was again stunned by its simplicity, and its beauty.  It is just magical the way the water flows over this almost invisibly.  This large piece of stone is perfectly flat on top, with a carved recess in the center, out of which water flows, then runs to the edge and down the sides of the piece.  It is so calming to watch this over time, and to be aware of the reflections of the trees and sky.  The day visiting the museum was just magical.


Anonymous said...

I am drawn most to the fountain which seems so tranquil.

Ken Spencer said...

Thanks, Joan. It is interesting that the photograph of the fountain was the last one that I took, and I looked at the fountain for a minute or so trying to decide whether or not to take that photograph. Funny that it took me so long to decide.

Anonymous said...

I like the fountain - I'm drawn to the water element. I also like his "Planet in Transit" but I can't explain why... betsey

Lichanos said...

I just discovered this museum, and it has become a favorite place of mine. I too think the Planet in Transit is marvelous, but I think I know why, for me at least. In a very sensuous way, it deals with ideas about basic physical ideas, e.g. mass, movement, and space itself. Noguchi said he was influenced by his chats with Buckminster Fuller about cosmology, and etc. When I look at this piece, I think of the moon hanging in the sky...and moving.