New York Art@Site Noguchi Isamu Red Cube

Noguchi Isamu


Red Cube

Brothers Harriman, HSBC
An artwork with contrasts
You would think that this artwork doesn’t need his environment, due its perfect shape, smooth surface and bright color. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A cube is a perfect abstract form. This perfection is enhanced by the environment with heavy traffic, hard-working people, functional buildings.
The red color is a prevalent color. It contrasts with the surrounding buildings and these buildings seem to become more colorful because of the artwork.
The cube has an opening, allowing to decrease the severity of the cubic form. The oblique placement is exciting and dynamic.
Red Cube by Noguchi Isamu only has 'masculine' qualities. What I miss in the artwork are 'female' properties like softness, social interaction, harmony. What would happen if this would be added? What would happen when a second cube made of fur was placed, perhaps under a slightly different angle?
Then the artwork would have more social interaction. But then interaction with the environment would by less.
Then the artwork would have more softness. But then the softness in the environment would be less prudent: the soft clothing of the walkers, the cozyness of the coffee corners.
No, to me every artwork may call for contrasts, add color and add dynamics, like Red Cube by Isamu Noguchi does.

Een kunstwerk met contrasten
Je zou denken dat dit kunstwerk zijn omgeving niet nodig heeft, door zijn perfecte vorm, gladde oppervlakte en felle kleur. Niets is minder waar.
Een kubus is een perfecte abstracte vorm. Deze perfectie wordt nog eens versterkt door de omgeving met druk verkeer, hard werkende mensen, functionele gebouwen.
De rode kleur is aanwezig. Het contrasteert met de omringende gebouwen en zorgt ervoor dat ook deze gebouwen meer kleur lijken te krijgen door het kunstwerk.
De kubus heeft een opening, waardoor de strengheid van de vorm iets minder wordt. De schuine plaatsing is spannend en dynamisch.
Red Cube van Noguchi Isamu heeft alleen ‘mannelijke’ kwaliteiten. Wat ik in het kunstwerk mis zijn ‘vrouwelijke’ eigenschappen als zachtheid, sociale interactie, harmonie. Wat zou er gebeuren als dit toegevoegd zou worden? Wat zou er gebeuren bij de plaatsing van een tweede kubus van bont, wellicht onder een iets andere hoek?
Dan zou het kunstwerk méér sociale interactie in zich hebben. Maar dan verliest het aan interactie met de omgeving.
Dan zou het kunstwerk meer zachtheid hebben. Maar dan valt de zachtheid in de omgeving minder op: de zachte kleding van de wandelaars, de gezelligheid van de koffiehoeken.
Nee, van mij mag elke kunstwerk sterke contrasten oproepen, kleur en dynamiek toevoegen zoals Red Cube van Noguchi Isamu dat doet.
By Theo,

Openness and happiness
The Red Cube by Noguchi Isamu has a perfect shape (just like My Sky Hole), but turns out to be open and cheerful. It’s open to the environment by giving it the color which is needed. Happy because of it’s heavy mass is standing on one point. Interestingly, the artwork has a round opening (just like My Sky Hole), perhaps to show something of the inside.

Hard en gesloten
De Red Cube van Noguchi Isamu heeft weliswaar een perfecte vorm (net zoals My Sky Hole), maar blijkt ook open en vrolijk te zijn. Open voor de omgeving om de kleur te geven die het nodig heeft. Vrolijk door met zijn zware massa op één punt te gaan staan. Interessant is dat het kunstwerk een ronde opening heeft (nét zoals My Sky Hole), misschien om hierdoor iets van het binnenste te laten zien.
By Theo,

Compared with other works
Suppose Red Cube by Noguchi Isamu would have a grey color and would lay flat on the ground. Then it would be an unobtrusive artwork, both because of the form and the color. Then it would seem that the artwork would be swallowed by the skyscrapers. The skyscrapers fill the room with their system of horizontal and vertical lines and with their matt colours.
Now the opposite happens: the little jumping object with the striking color gives the space and the skyscrapers more color and dynamics. The system is broken and the matte colors would be accompanied by a complementary color.
It is striking that the compared cubes are polished, colored or open but none of them use materiality explicitly. Red Cube is the most obvious example; you see a fully abstract object.

A cube is a closed form. But what happens when it’s opened? Then you can look inside the heart of the space. Then the wind can play through the space. Panoptikum by Udo Dagenbach (picture 1, more information) creates a religious space with a minimum of resources. If you walk between the columns and underneath the beams, you feel that you are at a special place.
The artwork is surrounded by a garden, so the silence is inside the room and the work is surrounded by silence. When a open cube would be positioned inside a city. I believe, a tension would occure by the silence inside the cube and the sounds outside this cube.
Panoptikum and Red Cube are both in interaction with their environment. Panoptikum adds silence and Red Cube adds dynamics.

Jonkes Nacht of Arjan Veldt (picture 2, more information) gives the city warmth and glow, by giving the city a layer of gold. If you look closely you can see that a picture at night is made from the same location and this is painted with gold.
The cube is barely visible. Your eye give only attention to the glow and the gradual color differences. Only then do you see the sleek form of the functional transformer house.
When aspects of Jonkers Nacht where used, Denkmal and Alamo would have more warmth and have more interaction with the environment.

Denkmal für die im Nationalsozialismus verfolgten Homosexuellen by Michael Elmgreen (picture 3, more information) is not entirely cubic but has some straight and also some oblique planes. The concrete cube has perfectly polished planes with sharp edges. In one of these planes, there is a rectangle wherein a movie is playing.
In my opinion, this artwork doesn’t give enough expression to the feelings of this topic. To expres the suffering, I don’t think at a closed shape, a smooth skin or a hard material. Then I rather think to the person who has done the suffered.
Of the seven compared artworks, to me only Panoptikum is able to expres a unspeakable suffering. Panoptikum by Udo Dagenbacht does this by space, silence, wind, sight.
By Theo,

Alamo by Tony Rosenthal (picture 4, more information) is a modest work of art; the cubic shape is clear, the color is dark gray, the notches are subtle, I don’t recognize a clear message. That is why I feel a lack in many ways.
The artwork would interact with the environment by using a deviating color, such as Red Cube does. There would by interaction by using characteristics of the environment in a new way, such as Jonkers Nacht does.
Alamo seems to be made of bronze but does not fully utilize the properties of this material. Bronze could give the artwork more layers and roughness. See Denkmal for a wrong example and Jonkers Night for a good example when using respectively polished concrete or gold (in a photo).

With a monument for Roma and Sinti I expect an artwork that articulate anxiety during pursuit, imprisonment, prosecution. This could be expressed by material with forms which are squeezed, teared apart, is crumbled.
The Roma and Sinti Monument by Haags Architecten Bureau (picture 5, more information), in contrast is a shiny cube. As a result, it seems to me that emotions are flattened. Or worse: that emotions are so much polished, that no emotions are but the viewer is visible.
I think that an artwork for the memory of a dramatic event, needs to be able to expres the occasion, to help remembering. A monument with warm colours such as Jonkers Nacht, would give comfort.

In Energy by Benni Efrat (picture 6, more information) I see at the same time an everyday object, an decorative element and an abstract artwork. I see a abstract cube that’s formed by eighteen simple bales of straw. The shiny metal rods could be more decorative and exciting if there was more variation in it.
It is interesting what Energy by Benni Efrat says: the most simple (straw) and the most abstract (cube) reality can be the same object. Everyone is allowed to give its own interpretation to it.
For Energy it’s easier than, for example, Denkmal or Monument. These are both artworks with a loaded subject, with the expectation that they give the opportunity to commemorate. Energy is allowed to play, to be serious, to be interesting and everyone can see or do something different with it.
By Theo,

The Sky Mirror by Anish Kapoor (New York, picture 7, more information) makes use of a mirror in a completely original way: it leaves the viewer not in solitude but it extends the sight of the Viewer. My Sky Hole could do something like that: if a portion of the mirror surface was omitted but the view was restricted to something which is important.

To me My Sky Hole by Inoue Bukichi (Tokyo, picture 8, more information) is closed and hard. Closed because the mirror reflects everything and (because of that) point out nothing of himself. Hard because it occurs to be perfect (having the form of a ball). Dew Drop is also closed but has a gentle form.

A Dew Drop by Chin Fai Danny Lee (Hong Kong, picture 9, more information) has a gentle form and reflects the environment subtle and stylish. A reflective material makes me lugubrious because it shows no inside and deviates my communication. How would it be if the form would have an opening (such as Red Cube and My Sky Hole) or would be partly made of glass so the interior would be visible?
By Theo,

Vergelijking met andere kunstwerken
Stel dat Red Cube van Noguchi Isamu een grijze kleur zou hebben en vlak op de grond zou staan. Dan zou het kunstwerk door zowel de vorm als de kleur onopvallend zijn. Dan zou het lijken dat het kunstwerk door de wolkenkrabbers verzwolgen wordt. De wolkenkrabbers vullen de ruimte met hun systematiek van horizontale en verticale lijnen en hun matte kleuren.
Nu gebeurt het tegenovergestelde: het kleine springende object met de opvallende kleur maakt dat de ruimte en de wolkenkrabbers meer kleur en dynamiek hebben. De systematiek wordt doorbroken en de matte kleuren hebben nu een complementaire kleur.
Opvallend is dat de gekozen kubussen gepolijst zijn, gekleurd zijn of open zijn maar geen van allen nadrukkelijk gebruikmaken van materialiteit. Red Cube is hiervan het duidelijkste voorbeeld; je ziet een volledig abstract object.

Een kubus is gesloten. Maar wat is het spannend als het geopend is. Daardoor kun je kijken in het hart van de ruimte en kan de wind door de ruimte spelen. Panoptikum van Udo Dagenbach (afbeelding 1, meer informatie) creëert met minimale middelen een religieuze ruimte. Als je tussen de kolommen en onder de balken loopt, voel je dat je op een bijzondere plek bent.
Het kunstwerk is omringt door een tuin, waardoor de stilte in de ruimte is en dat de ruimte ook omringt is door stilte. Als een open kubus in een stad geplaatst zou zijn, zou volgens mij een spanning ontstaan door stilte binnen de kubus en drukte buiten deze kubus.
Panoptikum en Red Cube zijn beiden in interactie met hun omgeving. Alleen voegt Panoptikum stilte en Red Cube dynamiek toe.

Jonkers Nacht van Arjan Veldt (afbeelding 2, meer informatie) geeft de stad warmte en gloed, door de stad van goud te maken. Als je goed kijkt zie je dat een foto bij nacht is gemaakt van dezelfde locatie en dit ingekleurd is met goud.
De kubus is nauwelijks zichtbaar. Je oog heeft alleen aandacht voor de gloed en de geleidelijke kleurverschillen. Pas daarna zie je de strakke vorm van het functionele transformatorhuisje.
Door gebruik te maken van kenmerken van Jonkers Nacht, zouden Denkmal en Alamo meer warmte en ook interactie met de omgeving hebben gekregen.

Denkmal für die im Nationalsozialismus verfolgten Homosexuellen van Michael Elmgreen (afbeelding 3, meer informatie) is niet geheel kubisch maar heeft een aantal rechte en ook een aantal schuine vlakken. De vlakken zijn van perfect gepolijst beton en hebben scherpe randen. In één van deze vlakken bevindt zich een rechthoek waarin een film speelt.
Naar mijn gevoel geeft dit kunstwerk tekort expressie aan de gevoelens van dit onderwerp. Bij het leed dat aangedaan is denk ik niet aan een gesloten vorm, een gladde huid of een hard materiaal. Dan denk ik eerder aan degene die dit leed heeft aangedaan.
Van de zeven vergeleken kunstwerken is naar gevoel alleen Panoptikum in staat om een onzegbare leed uit te drukken. Dit doet Panoptikum van Udo Dagenbacht door ruimte, stilte, wind, doorzicht.
By Theo,

Alamo van Tony Rosenthal (afbeelding 4, meer informatie) is een bescheiden kunstwerk; de kubische vorm is duidelijk, de kleur is donkergrijs, de inkepingen zijn subtiel, ik herken geen duidelijke boodschap. Daarom voel ik een gemis in veel opzichten.
Het kunstwerk zou een interactie met de omgeving aangaan bij een afwijkende kleur, zoals Red Cube doet. De interactie zou ik kunnen ontstaan door kenmerken uit de omgeving op andere wijze weer te geven, zoals Jonkers Nacht doet.
Alamo lijkt gemaakt van brons maar benut de eigenschappen van dit materiaal niet ten volle. Het brons had het kunstwerk meer gelaagdheid en ruwheid kunnen geven. Zie Denkmal voor een verkeerd voorbeeld en Jonkers Nacht voor een goed voorbeeld bij het gebruik van respectievelijk gepolijst beton of goud (in een foto).
By Theo,

Bij een monument voor Roma en Sinti verwacht ik een kunstwerk dat uiting geeft aan angst tijdens achtervolging, opsluiting, vervolging. Dit zou in materiaal uitgedrukt kunnen worden door vormen in elkaar te persen, uiteen te scheuren, te laten verkruimelen.
Het Roma en Sinti Monument van Haags Architecten Bureau (afbeelding 5, meer informatie) daarentegen is een glimmende kubus. Daardoor lijkt het mij dat emoties vlak gemaakt zijn. Of erger nog: dat emoties zodanig gepolijst zijn dat niet de emoties maar de kijker zichtbaar is.
Ik vind dat een kunstwerk ter nagedachtenis van een dramatische gebeurtenis allereest emoties moet kunnen uitdrukken, gelegenheid geven tot gedenken. Als het monument warme kleuren zou hebben zoals Jonkers Nacht, zou troost zijn gegeven.

In Energy van Benni Efrat (afbeelding 6, meer informatie) zie ik tegelijk een alledaags object, een decoratief element en een abstract kunstwerk. Ik zie een abstracte kubus wat gevormd is door achttien simpele balen stro. De glimmende metalen stangen zouden decoratiever en spannender kunnen zijn als er meer variatie in zou zijn.
Het is interessant wat Energy van Benni Efrat zegt: het meest eenvoudige (stro) en de meest abstracte (kubus) werkelijkheid kunnen hetzelfde object zijn. Iedereen mag hier een eigen interpretatie aan geven.
Energy heeft het makkelijker dan bijvoorbeeld Denkmal of Monument. Dit zijn beiden kunstwerken met een beladen onderwerp, waarvan wellicht verwacht mag worden dat het gelegenheid biedt om te herdenken. Energy daarentegen mag spelen, ernstig zijn, interessant zijn en iedereen mag er iets anders in zien of mee doen.
By Theo,

De Sky Mirror van Anish Kapoor (New York, afbeelding 7,meer informatie) maakt op een volstrekt originele manier gebruik van een spiegel: het laat de kijker niet in eenzaamheid achter maar verruimd juist de blik van de kijker. Iets dergelijks was ook mogelijk bij My Sky Hole: een gedeelte van de spiegel zou kunnen vervallen zodat het restant van de spiegel zou reflecteren was belangrijk is.

Ik vind My Sky Hole van Inoue Bukichi (Tokyo, afbeelding 8,meer informatie) gesloten en hard. Gesloten doordat de spiegel alles weerkaatst en (daarmee) niets van zichzelf laat zien. Hard doordat het zich voordoet perfect te zijn (in de vorm van een bol). Dew Drop is ook gesloten maar heeft een zachte vorm.

A Dew Drop van Chin Fai Danny Lee (Hong Kong, afbeelding 9,meer informatie) heeft een zachte vorm en weerkaatst de omgeving subtiel en stijlvol. Een spiegelend materiaal vind ik een beetje verdrietig doordat het binnenste niet zichtbaar is en het mij onmogelijk maakt om te communiceren. Hoe zou het zijn als de vorm een opening zou hebben (zoals Red Cube en My Sky Hole) of dat een gedeelte van glas zou zijn en het binnenste zichtbaar zou worden?
By Theo,
The bright red painted steel of Isamu Noguchi's Red Cube stands out in strong contrast to the blacks, browns, and whites of the buildings and sidewalks around the sculpture. Located to one side of a small plaza in front of the Brothers Harriman (previously HSBC) building on Broadway, Red Cube is surrounded on three sides by skyscrapers, the height of which draw a viewer's eye upwards. The sculpture itself adds to this upward pull, as it balances on one corner, the opposite corner reaching towards the sky. Despite its title, the sculpture is not actually a cube, but instead seems as though it has been stretched along its vertical axis.
Aside from it's striking color, Red Cube also stands out from the surrounding architecture in that all of its lines are diagonals, whereas the buildings are made up of horizontal and vertical lines. Additionally, the sculpture is balanced somewhat precariously on one corner, while the buildings, by contrast, and solidly placed.
Through the center of the cube there is a cylindrical hole, revealing an inner surface of gray with evenly-spaced lines moving from one opening of the hole to the other. Looking through this hole, the viewer's gaze is directed towards the building behind, tying the sculpture and the architecture together.
Los Angeles born Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) was a sculptor, theatrical and industrial designer best known for his abstract works and set designs for Martha Graham productions. News was one of his last figurative works, and the only time he employed stainless steel as an artistic medium. His work can be found throughout major metropolitan cities, in museums, and in the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum in Long Island City in New York. Noguchi's work around New York includes the Sunken Garden for Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza and News at the Associated Press Building His Thunder Rock was also temporarily on display in Rockefeller Plaza.
Isamu Noguchi (Noguchi Isamu, November 17, 1904 – December 30, 1988) was an American artist and landscape architect whose artistic career spanned six decades, from the 1920s onward. Known for his sculpture and public artworks, Noguchi also designed stage sets for various Martha Graham productions, and several mass-produced lamps and furniture pieces, some of which are still manufactured and sold.
In 1947, Noguchi began a collaboration with the Herman Miller company, when he joined with George Nelson, Paul László and Charles Eames to produce a catalog containing what is often considered to be the most influential body of modern furniture ever produced, including the iconic Noguchi table which remains in production today. His work lives on around the world and at the Noguchi Museum in New York City.
Early artistic career
After high school, Noguchi explained his desire to become an artist to Rumely; though he preferred that Noguchi become a doctor, he acknowledged Noguchi's request and sent him to Connecticut to work as an apprentice to his friend Gutzon Borglum. Best known as the creator of Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Borglum was at the time working on the group called Wars of America for the city of Newark, New Jersey, a piece that includes forty-two figures and two equestrian sculptures. As one of Borglum's apprentices, Noguchi received little training as a sculptor; his tasks included arranging the horses and modeling for the monument as General Sherman. He did, however, pick up some skills in casting from Borglum's Italian assistants, later fashioning a bust of Abraham Lincoln. At summer's end, Borglum told Noguchi that he would never become a sculptor, prompting him to reconsider Rumely's prior suggestion.
He then traveled to New York City, reuniting with the Rumely family at their new residence, and with Dr. Rumely's financial aid enrolled in February 1922 as a premedical student at Columbia University. Soon after, he met the bacteriologist Hideyo Noguchi, who urged him to reconsider art, as well as the Japanese dancer Michio Itō, whose celebrity status later helped Noguchi find acquaintances in the art world. Another influence was his mother, who in 1923 moved from Japan to California, then later to New York.
In 1924, while still enrolled at Columbia, Noguchi followed his mother's advice to take night classes at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School. The school's head, Onorio Ruotolo, was immediately impressed by Noguchi's work. Only three months later, Noguchi held his first exhibit, a selection of plaster and terracotta works. He soon dropped out of Columbia University to pursue sculpture full-time, changing his name from Gilmour (the surname he had used for years) to Noguchi.
After moving into his own studio, Noguchi found work through commissions for portrait busts, he won the Logan Medal of the Arts. During this time, he frequented avant garde shows at the galleries of such modernists as Alfred Stieglitz and J. B. Neuman, and took a particular interest in a show of the works of Romanian-born sculptor Constantin Brâncuși.
In late 1926, Noguchi applied for a Guggenheim Fellowship. In his letter of application, he proposed to study stone and wood cutting and to gain "a better understanding of the human figure" in Paris for a year, then spend another year traveling through Asia, exhibit his work, and return to New York. He was awarded the grant despite being three years short of the age requirement.
Early travels
Noguchi arrived in Paris in April 1927 and soon afterward met the American author Robert McAlmon, who brought him to Constantin Brâncuși's studio for an introduction. Despite a language barrier between the two artists (Noguchi barely spoke French, and Brâncuși did not speak English]), Noguchi was taken in as Brâncuși's assistant for the next seven months. During this time, Noguchi gained his footing in stone sculpture, a medium with which he was unacquainted, though he would later admit that one of Brâncuși's greatest teachings was to appreciate "the value of the moment". Meanwhile, Noguchi found himself in good company in France, with letters of introduction from Michio Itō helping him to meet such artists as Jules Pascin and Alexander Calder, who lived in the studio of Arno Breker. They became friends and Breker did a bronze bust of Noguchi.
Noguchi only produced one sculpture – his marble Sphere Section – in his first year, but during his second year he stayed in Paris and continued his training in stoneworking with the Italian sculptor Mateo Hernandes, producing over twenty more abstractions of wood, stone and sheet metal. Noguchi's next major destination was to be India, from which he would travel east; he arrived in London to read up on Oriental Sculpture, but was denied the extension to the Guggenheim Fellowship he needed.
In February 1929, he left for New York City. Brâncuși had recommended that Noguchi visit Romany Marie's café in Greenwich Village. Noguchi did so and there met Buckminster Fuller, with whom he collaborated on several projects, including the modeling of Fuller's Dymaxion car.
Upon his return, Noguchi's abstract sculptures made in Paris were exhibited in his first one-man show at the Eugene Schoen Gallery. After none of his works sold, Noguchi altogether abandoned abstract art for portrait busts in order to support himself. He soon found himself accepting commissions from wealthy and celebrity clients. A 1930 exhibit of several busts, including those of Martha Graham and Buckminster Fuller, garnered positive reviews, and after less than a year of portrait sculpture, Noguchi had earned enough money to continue his trip to Asia.
Noguchi left for Paris in April 1930, and two months later received his visa to ride the Trans-Siberian Railway. He opted to visit Japan first rather than India, but after learning that his father Yone did not want his son to visit using his surname, a shaken Noguchi instead departed for Beijing. In China, he studied brush painting with Qi Baishi, staying for six months before finally sailing for Japan. Even before his arrival in Kobe, Japanese newspapers had picked up on Noguchi's supposed reunion with his father; though he denied that this was the reason for his visit, the two did meet in Tokyo. He later arrived in Kyoto to study pottery with Uno Jinmatsu. Here he took note of local Zen gardens and haniwa, clay funerary figures of the Kofun period which inspired his terracotta The Queen.
Noguchi returned to New York amidst the Great Depression, finding few clients for his portrait busts. Instead, he hoped to sell his newly produced sculptures and brush paintings from Asia. Though very few sold, Noguchi regarded this one-man exhibition (which began in February 1932 and toured Chicago, the west coast, and Honolulu) as his "most successful". Additionally, his next attempt to break into abstract art, a large streamlined figure of dancer Ruth Page entitled Miss Expanding Universe, was poorly received. In January 1933 he worked in Chicago with Santiago Martínez Delgado on a mural for Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition, then again found a business for his portrait busts; he moved to London in June hoping to find more work, but returned in December just before his mother Leonie's death.
Beginning in February 1934, Noguchi began submitting his first designs for public spaces and monuments to the Public Works of Art Program. One such design, a monument to Benjamin Franklin, remained unrealized for decades. Another design, a gigantic pyramidal earthwork entitled Monument to the American Plow, was similarly rejected, and his "sculptural landscape" of a playground, Play Mountain, was personally rejected by Parks Commissioner Robert Moses. He was eventually dropped from the program, and again supported himself by sculpting portrait busts. In early 1935, after another solo exhibition, the New York Sun's Henry McBride labeled Noguchi's Death, depicting a lynched African-American, as "a little Japanese mistake". That same year he produced the set for Frontier, the first of many set designs for Martha Graham.
After the Federal Art Project started up, Noguchi again put forth designs, one of which was another earthwork chosen for the New York City airport entitled Relief Seen from the Sky; following further rejection, Noguchi left for Hollywood, where he again worked as a portrait sculptor to earn money for a sojourn in Mexico. Here, Noguchi was chosen to design his first public work, a relief mural for the Abelardo Rodriguez market in Mexico City. The 20-meter-long History as Seen from Mexico in 1936 was hugely political and socially conscious, featuring such modern symbols as the Nazi swastika, a hammer and sickle, and the equation E = mc². Noguchi also met Frida Kahlo during this time and had a brief but passionate affair with her; they remained friends until her death.
Further career in the United States
Noguchi returned to New York in 1937. He designed the Zenith Radio Nurse, the iconic original baby monitor now held in many museum collections. The Radio Nurse was Noguchi's first major design commission and he called it "my only strictly industrial design". He again began to turn out portrait busts, and after various proposals was selected for two sculptures. The first of these, a fountain built of automobile parts for the Ford Motor Company's exhibit at the 1939 New York World's Fair, was thought of poorly by critics and Noguchi alike but nevertheless introduced him to fountain-construction and magnesite. Conversely, his second sculpture, a nine-ton stainless steel bas-relief entitled News, was unveiled over the entrance to the Associated Press building at the Rockefeller Center in April 1940 to much praise. Following further rejections of his playground designs, Noguchi left on a cross-country road trip with Arshile Gorky and Gorky's fiancée in July 1941, eventually separating from them to go to Hollywood.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, anti-Japanese sentiment was energized in the United States, and in response Noguchi formed "Nisei Writers and Artists for Democracy". Noguchi and other group leaders wrote to influential officials, including the congressional committee headed by Representative John H. Tolan, hoping to halt the internment of Japanese Americans; Noguchi later attended the hearings but had little effect on their outcome. He later helped organize a documentary of the internment, but left California before its release; as a legal resident of New York, he was allowed to return home. He hoped to prove Japanese-American loyalty by somehow helping the war effort, but when other governmental departments turned him down, Noguchi met with John Collier, head of the Office of Indian Affairs, who persuaded him to travel to the internment camp located on an Indian reservation in Poston, Arizona, to promote arts and crafts and community.
Noguchi arrived at the Poston camp in May 1942, becoming its only voluntary internee. Noguchi first worked in a carpentry shop, but his hope was to design parks and recreational areas within the camp. Although he created several plans at Poston, among them designs for baseball fields, swimming pools, and a cemetery, he found that the War Relocation Authority had no intention of implementing them. To the WRA camp administrators he was a troublesome interloper from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and to the internees he was an agent of the camp administration. Many did not trust him and saw him as a spy. He had found nothing in common with the Nisei, who regarded him as a strange outsider. In June, Noguchi applied for release, but intelligence officers labeled him as a "suspicious person" due to his involvement in "Nisei Writers and Artists for Democracy". He was finally granted a month-long furlough on November 12, but never returned; though he was granted a permanent leave afterward, he soon afterward received a deportation order. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, accusing him of espionage, launched into a full investigation of Noguchi which ended only through the American Civil Liberties Union's intervention. Noguchi would later retell his wartime experiences in the British World War II documentary series The World at War.
Upon his return to New York, Noguchi took a new studio in Greenwich Village. Throughout the 1940s, Noguchi's sculpture drew from the ongoing surrealist movement; these works include not only various mixed-media constructions and landscape reliefs, but lunars – self-illuminating reliefs – and a series of biomorphic sculptures made of interlocking slabs. The most famous of these assembled-slab works, Kouros, was first shown in a September 1946 exhibition, helping to cement his place in the New York art scene. In 1947 he began a relationship with Herman Miller of Zeeland, Michigan. This relationship was to prove very fruitful, resulting in several designs that have become symbols of the modernist style, including the iconic Noguchi table, which remains in production today. Noguchi also developed a relationship with Knoll, designing furniture and lamps. During this period he continued his involvement with theater, designing sets for Martha Graham's Appalachian Spring and John Cage and Merce Cunningham's production of The Seasons. Near the end of his time in New York, he also found more work designing public spaces, including a commission for the ceilings of the Time-Life headquarters. In March 1949, Noguchi had his first one-person show in New York since 1935 at the Charles Egan Gallery. In September 2003, The Pace Gallery held an exhibition of Noguchi's work at their 57th Street gallery. The exhibition, entitled 33 MacDougal Alley: The Interlocking Sculpture of Isamu Noguchi, featured eleven of the artist’s interlocking sculptures. This was the first exhibition to illustrate the historical significance of the relationship between MacDougal Alley and Isamu Noguchi’s sculptural work.