For those interested in abstract art, the Lexington Avenue/53rd Street subway station offers a real treat: mosaic murals created by Brooklyn-born artist Al Held. Titled “Passing Through,” what makes this art even more special is that it was one of Held’s last works, designed in 2004 but actually finished after his death in 2005.
The MTA Arts & Design website contains the following description of “Passing Through”:
The colorful and exuberant mural reveals an immense universe in which geometric elements of varying shapes and sizes float freely. In the 1960s, Held moved from abstraction to tightly controlled geometric work, with two-dimensional figures suspended on the canvas. Held was curious about how everything is structured and was inspired by theories about the universe and its mysteries. He described his interest in “images that we believe in but that are beyond our senses and that we can never experience directly.” There is also another subject, that of buildings and architecture. His imagery powerfully evokes New York City’s contemporary energy while acknowledging the forms and styles of the Midtown skyscrapers overhead.
The mosaics are colorful, brightening up a corridor that otherwise would seem dull and dreary. The undulating walls upon which the glass mosaic tiles are fixed really add to the visual effect.
Want to view “Passing Through” for yourself? Take the E or M train to the Lexington Avenue/53rd Street station, and follow the signs towards the Lexington Avenue exit. (If you exit towards Third Avenue, you will miss the mosaics.) You will know you are headed in the right direction if the signs also show that you are headed towards the 6 train. The mosaics are located on the mezzanine level. If you are traveling on the 6 train, get off at the 51st Avenue station. That station connects underground to the Lexington Avenue/53rd Street station.