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MTA Arts & Design Announces New Book Documenting 103 Artworks Installed in Past Eight Years, Contemporary Art Underground, Available to Purchase Now

Updated April 24, 2024 2:30 p.m.
preview of pages 132-133 of new book, Contemporary Art Underground ft art by Marcel Dzama

Book Takes Glimpse Into Artists Behind Outpouring of Artworks Installed in New York’s Public Transportation System

Copies Available to Purchase at NY Transit Museum, Book Stores, and Online

Virtual Conversation With Authors Hosted by New York Transit Museum Today, April 24 at 2 P.M.

View Preview Photos of Book

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority today announced the release of Contemporary Art Underground, a new book that features 103 new artworks completed between 2015 and 2023 across New York’s transit system and offers a behind-the-scenes look at how these works were conceived, fabricated, and installed. The book, published by Monacelli, is available to purchase wherever books are sold, online at phaidon.com, Amazon, and bookstores’ online sites. The NY Transit Museum, located in Brooklyn, which is also selling the book online and in store, is hosting a free virtual conversation today, Wednesday, April, 24 at 2 p.m., with authors, Sandra Bloodworth, Director of MTA Arts & Design and Deputy Director Cheryl Hageman. For more information, see here.

Organized into ten chapters, the book journeys across the city’s boroughs, from Manhattan and Queens to the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, and beyond. Several chapters focus on monumental projects in major stations and reconstruction initiatives —the World Trade Center, Second Avenue Subway, Hudson Yards, Times Square, and Grand Central Madison—highlighting how they uniquely engage with and inform their surroundings.

“Those of us who grew up in New York, or have lived here for a long time, have grown to recognize that the subway is a place of amazing art and creativity in all kinds of ways, but especially in the visual art that we have here,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “This book, Contemporary Art Underground, sheds a light on all of these stunning works of art that are part of our patrimony, and which have been growing in number and quality under the amazing leadership of Sandra Bloodworth and Cheryl Hageman.”

“It has been an honor to see the collection of permanent artwork flourish over the years,” said MTA Arts & Design Director Sandra Bloodworth. “Every piece of art has a story to tell and this book shares that with its readers. Focusing on the latest art installations, the book takes you on a journey of the underground museum and across the commuter railroads too. With vivid images carrying you through, we hope that this book evokes a deeper sense of appreciation of the incredible art that is publicly accessible to those who travel through the transit system.”

“Through this book we hope riders will gain new appreciation for the artworks, in particular the ways in which they are inspired by their surroundings, the considered approach to integrate them into the station architecture, and the technical expertise used to realize them as permanent pieces,” said MTA Arts & Design Deputy Director Cheryl Hageman. “Contemporary Art Underground sheds light on how the large-scale works we see on our daily commutes come to be and allows readers an opportunity to explore these most recent additions to the collection through a different lens.”

The book, written by MTA’s Arts & Design Director for nearly 30 years, Sandra Bloodworth, and Deputy Director Cheryl Hageman, shares the stories behind these permanent works, from artist selection through the translation of an artwork into a largescale, site-specific installation. It features an impressive roster of artists whose work is now publicly accessible, often for the first time and dives into how the mediums are chosen for their resilience in the transit environment, ranging from colorful mosaics, dazzling glasswork, to robust metal sculptures.

The artists featured in the book, Kiki Smith, Yayoi Kusama, Nick Cave, Sarah Sze, Jim Hodges, and Derrick Adams, among many others, have made museum-quality experiences a regular part of the daily commute. The projects, shepherded by the Arts & Design team, coalesce to produce an exuberant portrait of New York City. Last year, Alex Katz, Nick Cave, and Sarah Sze had an exhibit at the Guggenheim and their work can be seen at 57 St on the , Times Square-42 St, and 96 St on the , respectively. Olalekan Jeyifous has been recently featured at the Museum of Modern Art but riders in Sunset Park can also see his work at 8 Av on the .

The MTA Arts & Design program started in 1985 and has commissioned more than 400 permanent artworks throughout the transit system. Last year, MTA Arts & Design launched its digital guide on the Bloomberg Connect app which offers MTA customers and app users anywhere in the world new ways of discovering the first-rate contemporary art collection located throughout the metropolitan New York area served by New York City Transit, Metro-North Railroad, and Long Island Rail Road.