Nicholas Knight/The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York
The Noguchi Museum is one of New York’s most surprising museums, a serene, contemplative space in a once-industrial section of Queens. It’s a fitting tribute to one of 20th-century art’s most unusual figures. Isamu Noguchi was born in Los Angeles in 1904, though he would spend most of his childhood in Japan. For much of his life he was regularly on the move, to Indiana, New York, and Europe; later, he maintained studios in both Japan and the United States. The result of his itinerant life was an aesthetic that reflected an array of influences, from Constantin Brancusi (who was a mentor of sorts) to Japanese craftsmen. His sculptures are characterized by their understated simplicity, air of mystery, and the elegant beauty of their materials. Noguchi established the museum in 1985, three years before he died, in a 1920s industrial building. The museum’s sculpture garden includes a number of his works, while other displays include sketches, photographs, and artifacts that shed light on the artist’s life.