When people think of the most iconic city in the United States, New York City comes to mind. From Central Park to the Statue of Liberty, New York City is filled with a variety of things to see and do for any tourist or native. Yet, beneath the bustling streets and beyond the sights and sounds of New York City, there is a gem hidden in plain sight: Subway Mosaics.
Subway mosaics in New York are one of the most hidden attractions in the city and showcase the craftsmanship and beauty of mosaics. Here, we’ve compiled seven breathtaking mosaics in New York City that capture the essence of the human experience and share where you can view these impressive pieces of art.
Up Close and Personal
The 86th Street subway station in Manhattan is where you will find ten large-scale mosaics and two tile works by renowned artist Chuck Close. His detailed portraits impressively capture the diversity of subway riders and illustrate an intimate look at frequent subjects of Close. In keeping with Close’s custom, two of the panels depict self-portraits. Riders are sure to get an up-close look at the faces that make up New York City and appreciate the unique elements of art portrayed.
Tail Waggin’ Fun
It is worth taking some time to explore 23rd Street on the F Line to see William Wegman’s mosaic pieces entitled Stationary Figures. Comprised of 11 mosaic murals, Wegman’s use of his two Weimaraner dogs—posing as humans—is sure to catch the eyes of commuters. Wegman’s intention in his art pieces was to dress the dogs to resemble commuters, the very people who will see the art every day!
Be Part of Art
Be part of art in an interesting and fun interaction with Vik Muniz’s glass mosaic entitled Perfect Stranger ! Located at 72nd Street Station of the Second Avenue Subway, “Perfect Strangers” brings humor, color, and visual interest to the daily commute of New Yorkers and visitors. With three dozen life-size portraits, Muniz depicts the vibrance and diversity of New Yorkers in everyday life. These unique portraits include people waiting for the train, parents caring for their children, a man in a tiger costume, and even a popsicle-holding police officer. Visitors can join in on the fun with these life-size mosaics and see more of Muniz’s work in the Met Museum of Art.
Take a Look Back Through History
The 63rd Street station features Jean Shin’s glass and ceramic mosaic, Elevated. This exhibition includes images selected from archival photographs from the New York Historical Society and the New York Transit Museum illustrating the deconstruction of the Second Avenue elevated train line in the 1940s. Each station level depicts a unique focal point of this historical event and uses different materials and colors.
The Beauty of Everyday Life
Andrea Deszo’s Community Garden is a glass mosaic at Bedford Park Boulevard-Lehman College Station in the Bronx. Recognized as “Best American Public Art” in 2007 by Americans for the Arts, this colorful mosaic depicts a thriving garden with insects, animals, and oversized fruit. The vibrant colors and playful imagery of Dezso’s Community Garden delight and inspire commuters as they travel through the train station.
Keep Your Head in the Clouds
Japanese-American artist, Yoko Ono, wants to share messages of hope to riders with her immaculate mosaics titled SKY. Created to commemorate the reopening of the 72nd Street subway station, Ono’s six-piece mosaic measures 973 square feet and depicts blue skies filled with clouds and messages of hope. Phrases such as “Imagine Peace” and “Remember Love” encourage viewers to keep their heads in the clouds as they go through their day.
The Sun, The Moon, and The Sky
Radiant gold and dazzling blue cover the walls of Bedford Avenue Station with Marcel Dzama’s No Less Than Everything Comes Together mosaics. Developed using glass materials, Dzama’s depictions of figures highlight the everyday heroes and people of New York. Marcel Dzama stated, “In these works, it is my intention to bring the sun, the sky, and the moon to the underground. What I love most about New York is its people, and for me, it was important to represent them and all of their wonderful complexities and diverse beauty in the piece… In the subway, it’s always a togetherness that bonds us uniquely like no other place in the world.”
In Plain Sight
The next time you are in New York consider visiting one of these breathtaking mosaics that showcase how the human experience connects people beyond the sights and sounds of the city. Subway mosaics will continue to tell the story of others and inspire viewers to consider the beauty in themselves and those around them.
If you love mosaics and are looking for inspiration for your next project, check out our selection of mosaics to find your perfect match. Whether you want to create a unique piece or choose a timeless design, you can enjoy the classic beauty of a mosaic in your home. Mosaic Natural is here to help you bring your vision to life!