New York City Subway Art: Surprising Art Installations Underground!

Okay, I am a typical New Yorker, racing around the city, my mind totally absorbed with what’s in front of my face at the moment, thinking about how to get from here to there and what’s my next appointment, etc. etc. etc.! The city is so stuffed to the gills with things to look at or take in that at a certain point everything becomes common place. Then one day you have an epiphany and say, “How come I never noticed that before?”

My photo: A Tom Otterness critter hanging out at the 14th Street and 8th Avenue station.


So there I am wandering underground in the subways one day and I come upon the work of Tom Otterness  (see photo) surprisingly perched on a bench in the subway…please also note the fellow sitting next to him totally ignoring the Otterness “critter”…and I think, “How did I miss this as it is so very clever and funny?”  This only reconfirms my position that public art and design is so pervasive in this city that we New Yorkers miss the good stuff 99% of the time. How sad is that?

Reginald Polynice/”Our Spectrum of Support” at 179th Street station



Okay, now my curiosity is peaked.  There has got to be tons of other art in the subway I am not attending to and I am determined to research it.  You know my mantra, ‘Search the world for all things wild and wonderful… even if it is underground!’


Roy Lichenstein/ “Collage 1990” at the Times Square 42nd Street station

Well, folks, there is so much down there in the stations and the tubes that I could write three blogs about it…maybe even more! The program is run by the MTA Arts for Transit  commission and is an intrinsic part of the city’s program for renovating rundown subway stations. Yes!


There is actually a Subway Art Guide  too! Who would have thunk it????

Annette Davidek/”Roundlet Series” at the Lorimer Street station


Did you know that Roy Lichenstein did a large mural at the Times Square and 42nd Street Station?  I mean, Roy Lichenstein, the infamous contemporary artist! Just love it. AND I also discovered that one of my favorite artists, Annette Davidek, who’s work hangs on the walls of my apartment in the city, adorns the Lorimer Street Station.


Josh Scharf/ “Carnegie Hall Montage” at the 57th Street station

Only in New York City would you have a complete art museum underground.  I read in the Huffington Post that Tom Otterness created more than 100 of his “critters” for his subway project, which FYI is called “Life Underground.




So I leave you where I started out, with the work of Tom Otterness.  But, trust me, there are hundreds of other artists, both famous and emerging, represented in this “underground museum”  that truly merit your attention.

Here are a few more art plums for you to be on the prowl for when you are traveling with the MTA  underground: