Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Subway Abstracts

The subway is a riot of sound and color - with the occasional rat and unwanted smells added to the mix just to remind one that this still is New York City, despite the claims of a "kinder, gentler" Big Apple. I always marvel at the aesthetics of the stations, many of which have undergone extensive restoration in the last 20 years. Many older stations - for example, those constructed before World War I - still retain their original design motifs with elaborately rendered medallions and tile work. The long-closed City Hall station, rarely opened for tours, is a beautiful example of the Art Nouveau style in its details. Even some of the recently renovated subway stops possess elaborate art installations, stained glass, or tile mosaics. My friends who eschew subway travel for whatever reason are missing one of the cheapest art shows in the city! (Still, surveying the puzzled and nervous faces of visitors trying to navigate these cacophonous spaces, I can't help wondering if some of them feel rather like the suspicious souls who populate George Tooker's famous egg tempera painting of a subway station - shown above left. Tooker had a great knack for depicting the worry and existential dread of mid-20th century urbanites. In the post 9/11 world many of his paintings seem newly relevant.)

These shots, colorful little abstracts of some of the tile work at 23rd Street on the 1 line, are the result of my experiments with the macro feature on the new camera. (I think the focus on #2 is a little off.)

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BooCat said...

Dear BrianC, Great shots. Subway travel and subway stations have always been fascinating to me. Even in the bad old days with the graffiti all over the cars and the grittiness that seemed to be missing the last time I was there. Also, as you captured it, each station seemed to be its own little individual jewel box with details of artistic interest to those who keep their eyes open. Thanks for the beautiful pictures.

One Wink at a Time said...

I have never been on a subway or in a station. They must be interesting, I've seen zillions of them in movies and so many of the scenes are memorable.

Isabel said...

This reminds me of how much I miss the Lisbon's subway. I love that tile work!