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Second Avenue Subway art, including work by Chuck Close, is unveiled

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It’s the state’s largest permanent public art installation

All photos courtesy of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Flickr

In the early part of 2014, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority revealed that it would liven up stations along the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway line with tons of public art. Now less than two weeks from the line’s opening, Governor Andrew Cuomo is showing off the finished products on his flickr page.

The expansive and mesmerizing installations are the largest permanent public art installation in New York State history, and dozens of works spread out over the four stations along the extension.

"The Second Avenue subway provides New Yorkers with a museum underground and honors our legacy of building engineering marvels that elevate the human experience," 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."

↑ At the 63rd Street station, artist Jean Shin has used archival photos of the Second and Third avenue elevated trains to create images in ceramic tile, glass mosaic and laminated glass. All the scenes are a throwback to the time when those trains were in operation.

↑ At the 72nd Street station, Vik Muniz’s installation “Perfect Strangers” features colorful images of New Yorkers created in mosaic. In all, the Brazilian artist has created over three dozen characters throughout the mezzanine and entrance areas.

↑ Chuck Close is behind “Subway Portraits” at the 86th Street Station. In all, Close has created 10 works in mosaic and two works in ceramic tile. The nine-foot-high installations feature well-known subjects like Philip Glass, Kara Walker, and Lou Reed, along with the artist himself, of course.

↑ Sarah Sze’s “Blueprint for a Landscape,” is made up of nearly 4,300 porcelain tiles spread throughout the 96th Street station, and in total the artwork spans about 14,000 square feet. The images depicted include “sheets of paper, scaffolding, birds, trees, and foliage—caught up in a whirlwind velocity that picks up speed and intensity as the composition unfolds throughout the station with references to energy fields and wind patterns.”

Cuomo is confident that the Second Avenue Subway will have its inaugural run on New Year’s Eve, so here’s hoping we can all catch a glimpse of these works (and ride the train too) very soon.