Five years in the making, the MTA is finally unveiling a giant, energetic mural in the 59th Street Columbus Circle subway station designed by conceptual artist Sol LeWitt. That the mural was installed post-humously, on what would have been LeWitt’s 82nd birthday, the absence of the artist is actually a part of LeWitt’s process. Like most of his wall-drawings, LeWitt’s specifications constitute the art, and the execution, usually carried out by studio assistants, is the manifestation of his instructions.
The mural consists of 250 porcelain tiles cut and colored to LeWitt’s exact directions. The proposal was created in 2004, during which time LeWitt selected the site and titled the work “Whirls and Twirls (MTA).” The project was included in the $108 million revamping of the Columbus Circle station. Two more circular floor works are planned for installation. We are told they are compass-rose designs in a contrasting light and dark grey color scheme. As the construction subsides passengers will be greeted by a colorfully saturated, vibrant, and playful piece of work by a world-renowned artist and one of conceptual art’s great masters.