A new show celebrating 25 years of the wonderful Noguchi Museum and Garden in Long Island City, Queens, is called “On Becoming an Artist: Isamu Noguchi and His Contemporaries, 1922–1960.” It could have been called Six Degrees of Isamu Noguchi or Linked-in, featuring Isama Noguchi. It even comes with a wall-sized flow chart of connections. Some of the connected names are Bucky Fuller, Alexander Calder, Frieda Kahlo, Martha Graham, George Balanchine.
Noguchi also planned a swimming pool for director Josef Von Sternberg, at his house by Richard Neutra. (It was never built but imagine Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper paddling around together.) He did a bust of Ginger Rogers. More than a sculptor, he was a designer of furniture and lamps for Herman Miller, Knoll and others. He shaped public spaces and playgrounds. He worked with leading artists, designers and architects.
above: my arizona 1943
In 1943 in a wartime internment camp for Japanese Americans he wrote letters to friends like Man Ray and created “My Arizona” a wall sculpture of fiberglass and plastic commenting on the desert village where he lived out the war.