N.Y. MTA unveils colorful subway station artwork

Posted on September 11, 2009

[IMAGE]NY-subway-art-full.jpg[/IMAGE]New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority unveiled a major artwork by the late artist Sol LeWitt at the 59th Street-Columbus Circle subway complex, which is currently under rehabilitation.

The artist created the proposal in 2004 and selected the site, which is an expansive wall facing a double wide stairway and landing at 60th Street that leads from the mezzanine to the A, B, C, D and 1 trains. Titled “Whirls and twirls (MTA),” the artwork is 53-feet wide by 11 feet high and consists of 250 porcelain tiles, in six colors, each cut to meet the artist’s specifications. 

“LeWitt’s genius comes through in this artwork, which is a major work of precision with its curves and bands in vibrant color that completely fills the space. It will become a landmark and is a great tribute to one of our major artists,” said MTA Chairman H. Dale Hemmerdinger.

Sandra Bloodworth, director of arts for transit and facilities design, said: “This project was filled with challenges, as we prepared several samples of tile and glazes to meet with Mr. LeWitt’s approval and found a facility that could produce large tiles mandated by the design. Working with Arts for Transit, his family and colleagues helped bring the project to completion. It is a very special and unique creation because it is a permanent public installation of a wall drawing, executed in porcelain tile. Usually the wall drawings are executed in paint or pencil based on exacting instructions by the artist.”

The art is being installed as part of the rehabilitation of the 59th Street-Columbus Circle subway complex, which will bring the station into a state of good repair. In addition to the artwork, the project includes the installation of new lighting and tile flooring and construction of a new entrance at 60th Street and Broadway, a retail arcade, passenger restrooms and elevators that will make the complex fully accessible for customers with disabilities.

Sol LeWitt (1928-2007) is a celebrated artist who has had hundreds of solo exhibitions in museums and galleries worldwide since 1965. His work ranges from Wall Drawings, over 1100 of which have been executed, to photographs and hundreds of works on paper and extends to geometry based sculptures.

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