The Art of the Second Avenue Subway (86th St Station)

“The richness of the city is all the various cultures coming together, and the richness of my art will be to simultaneously let people in on how many ways there are to build an image.” – Chuck Close.

Chuck Close is an American painter, artist, and photographer who achieved fame as a photorealist, through his massive-scale portraits. He was commissioned by Metropolitan Transportation Authority Arts for Transit to create a permanent installation for the 86th Street and Second Avenue station which had its grand opening on January 1, 2017 (you can read my first post on Second Avenue subway line here to learn more about its history).

Instead of painting portraits, Mr. Close created 12 large-scale portraits based on his own portrait paintings and prints. He applied different painting techniques to 10 portraits made of mosaic and two made with ceramic tile.

“My work has always had a mosaiclike quality to it,” Mr. Close mentioned In his interview with NY Times. “So it’s not such a stretch. The idea is to reflect the riding population: old people, young people, people of color, Asians. I’m going to do as many as 12 separate mosaics, mainly from pictures of artists I’ve taken over the years.”

With the exception of John Cage, Mr. Close explained, most people will probably not recognize who’s who. (There is a portrait of a baby, perhaps a future artist, based on a photograph of his niece Emma.) Each of the portraits is 10 feet high, and, all told, more than 1,000 square feet is dedicated to the artwork.

I’ve visited the station last week and took some photos:

Pretty impressive to say the least. “I’m trying to make each one different,” Mr. Close said. “Even though they are made of thousands of chunks of glass, there’s a rhythm and a handwriting to it that is similar to painting.”

I’ll try to visit the 96th Street Station in the next few weeks and see what is good there. While I do that, you can read my post about 72nd Street Station art here.

Thanks for stopping by and see you soon!

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3 Comments

    1. Julia Amosova

      Thanks for stopping by, Mad Hatters NYC! The pieces are indeed really great. I visited your blog and loved it, so many good suggestions on different places to visit in NYC. I didn’t find “Like” button on your post about 2nd Ave line art and no place to leave a comment but I did enjoy reading it very much especially the part about Chuck Close’s difficult life path. Thanks for making the post so interesting!

      Liked by 1 person

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