• Steven Heller

Unforgettable Subway Art


Bill Brand’s Masstransiscope, a public artwork that creates the illusion of a brilliantly colored zoetrope film in a New York City subway station, has recently been restored–and can now be seen and marveled at again, after having lain dormant for many years.

Until it fell into disrepair, Masstransiscope, which Brand installed in Brooklyn’s Myrtle Avenue subway station in Brooklyn in September 1980, was seen by countless commuters. Brand’s 228 hand-painted panels are viewed through a series of vertical slits set into a specially constructed housing. The piece works on the principle of the 19th-century optical toy known as the zoetrope; in Brand’s piece, the abstract imagery (above and below) comes animatedly to life in a truly uplifting way.

To see video of the phenomenon, see the recent New York Times article on the artwork by Randy Kennedy here, or check it out here on YouTube.

To see it for yourself: Take the Manhattan-bound Q or B train from DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn, and look out the windows on the right-hand side. It is AMAZING!

Are there other public artworks we should know about, in New York or elsewhere in the world?

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