UPPER EAST SIDE — When the Second Avenue Subway opens on New Year's Day, there will be more than just tunnels and train cars to see. Four permanent art installations by Chuck Close, Jean Shin, Vik Muniz and Sarah Sze will decorate each of the four stations, respectively.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled the art installations at a press conference at the Museum of Modern Art on Monday morning.
"The Second Avenue subway provides New Yorkers with a museum underground and honors our legacy of building engineering marvels that elevate the human experience," Governor Cuomo said in a statement. "Public works projects are not just about function — they’re an expression of who we are and what we believe. Any child who has never walked into a museum or an art gallery can walk the streets of New York and be exposed to art and education simply by being a New Yorker. That is where we came from and that is what makes New York special."
Here are the installations on view at each station:
► "Elevated" by Jean Shin at East 63rd Street
Jean Shin, a South Korean, New York City-based artist who has done work for the MTA before, including at the LIRR Station in Flushing, used archival photos of the former Second and Third Avenue elevated train to make images of the dismantled El and various images of people from the 1940s with ceramic tile, glass mosaic, and laminated glass. A ceramic tile depicting construction beams and the cranes that took the El apart in the 1940s is located next to the station's escalator, and a mosaic of the sky and various former Upper East Siders color the mezzanine. On the platform, semi-transparent and reflective materials were used to illustrate vintage neighborhood scenes, which allow for straphangers to see themselves within the old cityscapes.
► "Perfect Strangers" by Vik Muniz at East 72nd Street
Vik Muniz, a Brazilian-born artist also based in New York City and Rio de Janeiro, created more than three dozen mosaic characters to represent different kinds of New Yorkers on the mezzanine. The main station entrance has an etched glass canopy with a flock of birds.
► "Subway Portraits" by Chuck Close at East 86th Street
Chuck Close, a New York-based painter and photographer known for transforming photographs into larger-than-life abstract portraits, made two ceramic tile works and 10 large mosaics, which stand nearly 9 feet tall and are based on photographs of almost a dozen cultural figures, including himself, Philip Glass, Lou Reed, Zhang Huan, Kara Walker, Alex Katz, Cecily Brown, and Cindy Sherman.
► "Blueprint for a Landscape" by Sarah Sze at East 96th Street
Sarah Sze, a New Yorker who has also shown her work around the world, used different shaded of blue with a blueprint-style vector line design to create images with movement, from paper, trees, and birds to scaffolding and sheets of paper across 14,000 square feet.
The Second Avenue Subway will connect the Q line to the Lexington/63rd Street station and provide service from East 63rd to East 96th streets along Second Avenue, and it will start running at noon on Jan 1.