Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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Times Square Mural, 2002, detail 3 (photographed from left to right).

Artist: Roy Lichtenstein (Collage 1990, fabricated 1994). NYC’s Times Square/42nd Street. Porcelain enamel on wall of N, Q, R, S, W, 1, 2, 3 mezzanine.

Image: GrrlScientist 5 November 2008 [larger view].


Times Square Mural captures the spirit of the subway, its linear movement and dynamic energy. With a nod to both the past and the future — its central image is a futuristic bullet shaped car zipping through an underground station. And not just any station, this is Times Square, in the heart of New York City.

Lichtenstein was born in New York in 1923 and spent his last years here. The Times Square Mural reflects his career, with references to, and variations on, his earlier works. Lichtenstein also freely appropriated and incorporated images from the works of other artists and designers in his work. For instance, the hooded figure at the right of the mural is from the old Buck Rogers comic strips and the iconic 42 image is from a series of drawings of the architectural detail of the subway. It is a signature work that honors its creator and the place in which it is located.

I have photographed glass tile mosaic artworks from several NYC subway stations now, so far, all are westside Manhattan subway lines; including the Cathedral Parkway/110th Street platform (downtown-bound 1 train only); the mezzanine walls of the 42nd Street (Times Square) for the A, C and E trains; 42nd street/Times Square upstairs platform (1, 2 & 3 trains); 42nd Street/Times Square passageway between the 8th Avenue/Port Authority Bus Terminal (A, C, & E trains) and the 7th Avenue/Broadway (1, 2, & 3 trains) platforms; West 66th street/Lincoln Center Station (1 train); West 34th Street/Pennsylvania Station (A, C & E trains); Chambers Street (A & C trains); Houston Street (1 train); and Pennsylvania “Penn” station (1, 2 & 3 trains) [subway art archives] and, my favorite subway station of all, the American Museum of Natural History station at 81st and Central Park West (B & C trains) [AMNH archives].