‘Contemporary Art Underground’ Celebrates How MTA Art & Design Builds a Modern Museum for New York City

  • Feb 8.

Nancy Blum. Photo by Cathy Carver. All images © the artists, courtesy of Phaidon, shared with permission

British artist David Hockney famously quipped, “Art has to move you and design does not, unless it’s a good design for a bus.” Contemporary Art Underground, a forthcoming book from Phaidon posits that these two facets of visual culture are a match made to move us indeed.

Authored by Sandra Bloodworth, who has directed MTA Art & Design for over 30 years, along with deputy director Cheryl Hageman, the volume showcases more than 100 permanent installations undertaken between 2015 and 2023.

Part catalogue and part field guide, Contemporary Art Underground emphasizes the power of visual art in the places we transit through every day. The selection highlights how works by greats like Alex Katz, Derrick Adams, Katherine Bradford, and many more, create a more pleasant and thought-provoking civic experience, transforming the network of subway stations into a highly accessible, one-of-a-kind museum.

Some of the most recent additions to the MTA collection are two mosaics by Yayoi Kusama and Kiki Smith in Manhattan’s brand new Grand Central Madison station. In 2022, Nick Cave completed an immense mosaic and video installation at the Times Sq-42 St. subway titled “Each One, Every One, Equal All,” which features dancing figures evocative of the artist’s Soundsuits. And in the busiest entrance of the Grand Central-42 St. station, commuters reflect on a colorful, mirrored glass piece by Jim Hodges titled “I dreamed a world and called it Love,” which spans the width of the hall.

Contemporary Art Underground is slated for release on April 24. Pre-order your copy now on Bookshop.

 

Kiki Smith. Photo by Anthony Verde Photography

Derrick Adams. Photo by Emil Horowitz

Damien Davis. Photo by Etienne Frossard

Katherine Bradford. Photo by Jason Mandella

Alex Katz. Photo by Etienne Frossard

Nick Cave. Photo by Photo by Trent Reeves

Jim Hodges. Photo by Felipe Fontecilla

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