chuck closeSelf-portrait of renowned artist Chuck Close for the 86th Street Second Avenue Subway Station

A preview presentation of New York’s newest public art installation, the Second Avenue Subway, was held yesterday at the Museum of Modern Art. On hand to give us a sneak peek of this ambitious artistic project were Governor Andrew Cuomo, Thomas Prendergast, Chairman & CEO of the MTA, and Glen Lowry, Director of the Museum of Modern Art.

Moving right into a slideshow presentation, giving us a first look at the four subway stations making up the newest part of the Second Avenue Subway, Governor Cuomo shared his thoughts about how “art and architecture are what make this city vibrant,” and in this project, as in all of the MTA art projects, integrating art in our stations shows the character of our society, as we strive for our public stations to have more than functionality and form.

sarah-sze-96th-st-untapped-cities-afinelyneGovernor Andrew Cuomo presenting a preview of the First Phase of the Second Avenue Subway

The four renowned artists chosen for the first four stations making up the Second Avenue Subway have each reflected in their artwork the diversity of the people who will frequent those stations everyday. The artwork was shown in a slideshow format, and our photo’s below were taken from that slideshow. Here is some of what we have to look forward to.

The artist, Jean Shin entitled her 63rd Street Station artwork “Elevated,” named for the elevated girders that were dismantled. Her creative process for this project led her through the archives of the New York Transit Museum and the New-York Historical Society for inspiration.

Jean Shin “Elevated”

Brazilian artist Vic Muniz created a series entitled “Perfect Strangers” for the 72nd Street station. The series of thirty-six life-size portraits represent people waiting for a train. Many of the portraits are of people he knows.

“Perfect Strangers” by artist, Vic Muniz

“Perfect Strangers” by artist, Vic Muniz

“Perfect Strangers” by artist, Vic Muniz

Twelve large-scale mosaic portraits created by the renowned artist, Chuck Close, will adorn the 86th Street subway station. “Subway Portraits” consist of some of New York’s most well-known residents, including Philip Glass, Cindy Sherman, Lou Reed, the painter’s Cecily Brown and Alex Katz, and artists Kara Walker, Zhang Huang, Sienna Shields and Pozsi B. Kolor, along with two self-portraits.

Subway Portraits” by artist, Chuck Close for the 86th Street Second Avenue Subway Station

Artist Sarah Sze entitled her 96th Street station artwork “Blueprint for a Landscape.” Blue images of blowing paper, and all manor of artifacts swirl around visitors passing through approximately 14,000 square feet of porcelain wall tiles.

Governor Cuomo left us with the anticipated opening date of January 1, 2017, which was met with laughter from the well-attended crowd of press. But the Governor smiled, and was quick to assuage our disbelief with a reminder of the New York Spirit that has made us the great city we are, and a reminder of other projects we have to look forward to, including “Harbors of Lights” project, which will light our bridges with LED colors; the redevelopment of the Javitz Center; restoration of JFK airport and the TWA Terminal Hotel; the new Penn-Farley Complex, and the new Long Island Railroad Concourse; “New York Crossings,” which removes all toll booths; renovation of the inside of our tunnels, and renovation of 33 existing subway stations.

The Second Avenue Subway will be built in four phases. Phase 1, which will run from 63rd to 96th Streets, is expected to serve more than 200,000 people each day. When completed, the project will span 8.5 miles and run from Hanover Square in lower Manhattan to 125th Street in East Harlem, and Congressman Charles Rangel was there to applaud that final phase.


The first train of the $4.5 billion MTA Second Avenue Subway will leave from the 96th Street station at 6:04 a.m. on January 1, 2017. See you there!

Take a closer look at the work of Chuck Close for the Second Avenue Subway. Read about the Design philosophy and Art at MTA Arts & Design, and check out the Top 10 Secrets of the NYC Subway. View 10 Original Subway Tiles and Signs. Get in touch with the author at AFineLyne.