Sunday, February 19th was the 75th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066 which authorized the internment of Japanese and Japanese Americans on the West Coast. Artist Isamu Noguchi, a Japanese American whose father was Japanese and mother was American, was not subject to the executive order as a resident of New York City but he chose to self-intern himself with the agreement of the United States government in hopes to improve conditions at the Poston camp in Arizona. The Noguchi Museum currently has the exhibit “Self-Interned” exploring the impact of the internment on the artist.
But New York City is also full of Noguchi works in its public spaces. In honor of the artist and the anniversary of the executive order, here is a guide to Noguchi works you can find in New York City:
1. Red Cube at 140 Broadway (1968)
At 140 Broadway in Lower Manhattan, Isamu Noguchi’s Red Cube stands out prominently against the backdrop of the soaring Brown Brothers Harriman high rise. Noguchi’s initial submissions for the Public Works of Art Program were declined. Red Cube, however, was accepted and installed in 1968. Like many of Noguchi’s works, the sculpture playfully interacts with the surrounding urban fabric.
“The cube signifies chance, like the rolling of dice,” Noguchi explained. “If the ‘sun’ [in reference to another Noguchi’s piece, The Garden (Pyramid, Sun, and Cube), at Yale University] is primordial energy, the cube is that man-made pile of carbon blocks by which he had learned to stimulate nature’s processes. The cube on its point may be said to contain both earthly square and solar radiance.”