Home / Art100+ Whimsical Bronze Sculptures Inhabit the NYC Subway

100+ Whimsical Bronze Sculptures Inhabit the NYC Subway

If you’ve been to NYC within the past 10 years or so, you may have seen this grand public art installation down in the NYC subway. Located in the 14th Street and 8th Avenue station are over 100 little cast-bronze sculptures depicting life in NYC. When artist Tom Otterness started the Life Underground installation back in 2002, he probably could never have imagined how popular it would become. Of course, the work took 10 years to complete and the artist ended up making four times the amount of work he was originally commissioned to create. As he said, “I kept putting more and more work in. I put probably five times what they paid me to put in. Finally my wife stopped me…”

Life Underground is filled with five distinct character types – blue-collar workers with construction hats and t-shirts, white-collar workers with business hats, radicals with no clothes and pointed hats, rich people with top hats and cops. The artist even included a familiar NYC urban myth (two words, sewer alligator).

Though at first glance, the little sculptures may seem just like comical characters, notice that many of them touch upon more deeper social issues such as class and money. You can learn more about the artist in a new interview ELEGRAN conducted with the artist where he talks about his inspiration, his creative process and more.

Here’s my favorite Q&A. “Do you get a chance to interact with people at the installation you have put up?”

“The good thing is that most people in New York don’t know what I look like. So its like child’s fantasy to be invisible. I often go to the 14th Street station. If I’m feeling depressed, I take a detour over to 14th Street, and there is always somebody doing something with the work there, and I look at that, and feel everything is OK, and think to myself, what’s my problem, and I get back on the subway and go.”

Above photo credit: CG33


Photo credit: jc_nyc


Photo credit: NYC loves NYC


Photo credit: NYC loves NYC


Photo credit: jc_nyc


Photo credit: christiNYCa


Photo credit: jc_nyc


Photo credit: Nick Pauly


Photo credit: NYC loves NYC


Photo credit: jc_nyc


Photo credit: Maro Riofrancos

Tom Otterness website

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