I’m obsessed with the MTA Arts & Design program that, among other things, commissions art for New York City subway stations. I purposely got off the train at Columbus Circle and 59th Street to see the Sol LeWitt installation, then got back on for my intended destination. I’ve been in the station countless times since the work was installed in 2009, but never had stopped to take a photo.
“A monumental and vibrant porcelain tile wall drawing by Sol LeWitt has been installed at 59th Street-Columbus Circle. The artist created the proposal in 2004 and, working with Dattner Architects, selected the site in an expansive wall facing a double-wide stairway and landing that leads from the mezzanine to the platforms of the A, C, B, D and 1 trains. Titled Whirls and twirls (MTA), the artwork is 53 feet wide and by 11 feet high and consists of 250 porcelain tiles in six colors, each cut to meet the artist’s specifications. The artist created the drawing/maquette for the project, reviewed and selected materials, and approved color samples prior to his death in 2007.
The artist is known for his sculptures and his wall drawings, in which detailed directions are provided for the execution of the artwork in paint or pencil. The site-specific piece – unique because it is a permanent public installation of a wall drawing – is a bravura work of precision, with swooping curves and vertical and horizontal bars in vibrant color that completely fills the space. The tile was cut to the exact dimensions of the drawing to ensure that the scale of the work and the color sequences are as the artist intended.” (MTA Arts for Transit)