A Photo Guide to the Art of the Second Avenue Subway

86th Street Subway Art by Natasha Shapiro 10

“Every public artwork was also an educational experience. A child that never walked into a museum or never walked into an art gallery, they just walked around the streets of New York, they would be exposed to art and education and culture just by being in New York. And that’s where New York came from and what made New York special.” – Governor Andrew Cuomo on the 2nd Avenue subway art series.

Welcome to the new 2nd Avenue Subway which not only offers easy access to new cuisines and tastes but a wealth of unexpected visual experiences. This underground art gallery offers a peek into the incredible diversity and beauty of New York City with works by Vik Muniz, Chuck Close, and Sarah Sze.


72nd Street Subway Art: Vik Muniz

The 72nd Street station showcases the work of Vik Muniz. Born in Brazil and based in New York City, the artist photographed more than three dozen people as inspiration for each of the characters portrayed by the mosaics in the work titled, Perfect Strangers. Each tiled piece features a diverse range of people, from a father and daughter holding bunches of balloons, to a couple hands joined together, to a man in a tiger mascot costume, all waiting for the train.

86th Street Subway Art: Chuck Close

The 86th Street station presents artwork by Chuck Close, in the form of 10 large-scale mosaic portraits based on his own portrait paintings and prints from his Subway Portraits series. The 10 intricately crafted pieces feature two self portraits of Close himself, the iconic musician Lou Reed, artist and filmmaker Kara Walker, painter and performance artist Zhang Huan, British Painter Cecily Brown, composer Philip Glass, artist Alex Katz, and Close’s wife Sienna Shields. Close received the National Medal of Arts from President Bill Clinton and served on the Committee on the Arts and Humanities under President Barack Obama.

96th Street Subway Art: Sarah Sze

96th Street Subway Art by Natasha Shapiro 3

The 96th Street station features a 14,000 foot mosaic by artist Sarah Sze called Blueprint for a Landscape. Using 4,300 unique tiles, Sze details a blueprint blue background scene with birds, foliage, and scaffolding in a stunning display.

Through the MTA Arts & Design program, almost 300 works of art peppered throughout the New York City subway system are seen by more than 4 million riders every day. With applications open for new artist submissions for 2017, we’re excited to see the addition of these new pieces to our underground art gallery.