12.27.20: View through the cube

Windows of the office tower at 140 Broadway can be seen through the hole in Isamu Noguchi's Red Cube, a giant red-orange cube standing on its corner in front of what was originally known as the Marine Midland Building in Manhattan.

Windows of a New York City office tower can be seen through the hole in Isamu Noguchi's Red Cube, street art in Lower Manhattan.

Tech specs

  • Date/time: Oct 8, 2005 11:27 AM   
  • Camera: Canon EOS 20D
  • Lens: Canon EF-S 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 
  • Focal length: 14mm
  • Aperture: f/4
  • Shutter: 1/60 second
  • ISO: 800

Photographing bright street art on a rainy day

I admit that I’m a junky for public art, the interesting and often odd sculptures found in public spaces or in front of buildings in major cities. These sculptures always grab my attention.

As a photographer, I like to find viewing angles that illustrate how the sculptures interact with the cities that surround them. Some don’t fit in at all, at least from a photo composition viewpoint. But others integrate so perfectly that it’s difficult to imagine the location without the sculpture.

Those are the ones that are fun to photograph.

Red Cube, a New York City sculpture by American artist and industrial designer Isamu Noguchi, definitely fits that description.

The 24-foot-tall red cube-like sculpture stands at 140 Broadway in Lower Manhattan, surrounded by towering buildings housing banks and financial institutions.  I first found the sculpture on a gloomy, rainy October morning in 2005. The bright red color definitely stood out from the wet, dreary surroundings.

I call it a “cube-like sculpture” because Red Cube isn’t really a cube. It’s more of a distorted shape made up of diagonal lines and red panels that resembles a cube balanced on one corner, seemingly defying gravity and directing the viewer’s eye up toward the buildings and sky. The diagonal  lines and bright color contrasts with the vertical and horizontal lines and neutral colors of the surrounding buildings.

The sculpture has  a cylindrical hole running upward through its center, serving as a sort of viewfinder focused on the building windows above.

The sculpture was placed at the site in 1968.

I first found the sculpture on a gloomy, rainy October morning in 2005. The bright red color definitely stood out from the wet, dreary surroundings.