In the 1960s, Isamu Noguchi, the American sculptor, pacifist, costume and set designer (who worked with choreographers Martha Graham, George Balanchine and composer John Cage) and who was also Frieda Kahlo’s lover by the way, established a studio in a Queens industrial ‘park’ because of easier access to his materiel and because he was allowed to use his suppliers’ industrial saws.
He chose a 1920s building across from which today stands his museum, for which he alone created the content and established its position. Everything. Its outdoor courtyard contains his ashes.
Elsewhere, in lower Manhattan, his Red Cube is located in front of 140 Broadway, near ‘ground zero’. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, that 1960s building was among the first to incorporate a large public plaza (taking up more than 50% of the lot), becoming the stage for Noguchi’s enormous work.
Up in midtown, his 1940 News (pictured) — a heavy stainless steel bas relief above the entrance to 50 Rockefeller Center (centered between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, and 50th and 51st Streets) — depicts five newspaper workers using the ‘latest technology’: camera, telegraph, telephone, teletype and by hand, using pen and paper. It represents the height of Art Deco design in both theme and material.
To get to the Noguchi Museum consider riding a CitiBike over the 59th Street Bridge, or take the NYC Ferry upriver to the Astoria dock, (easily walkable from the Museum), or ride the Roosevelt Island tram, then walk north to the Queens footbridge. It’s a walk Noguchi often took himself.