The Bronze Statuettes of the 14th Street – 8th Avenue Subway, NYC

The Golden Globes kick off awards season. Watching them from New York, I will inevitably wax nostalgic about Los Angeles, my former hometown, as the glorious sunshine lights up the movie stars on the red carpet.

2012 recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement @ Golden Globes

Southern California (Orange County) sparkles in the off-season

I wanted to honour the Golden Globes from New York, so by a (large) stretch of the imagination, I came up with a topic for this post: The Bronze Statuettes of the 14th Street 8th Avenue Subway. A few weeks back, I spotted these little figurines and have wanted to write about them ever since. In light of the Golden Globes award show, I now have the perfect excuse.


Rolling dice and playing cards


Waiting, with the rest of us

A resident rat

If you’re not familiar with these squat bronze sculptures, they are part of Tom Otterness’ “Life Underground” series commissioned by the Metropolitan Transit Authority and Arts for Transit. They dot the 14th Street – 8th Avenue subway — around the main concourse and its A, C, E and L stops. You’ll come across a cartoon-like top-hatted figurine while descending the stairway to the platform below, only to find yourself greeted by a large caricature fashioned into a phone box..

Crocodile’s dinner

“Life Underground” took ten years to create, and includes over 100 cast bronze works. They are so interesting to look at while waiting for the subway.

Caught sneaking under

Money Bags

Enjoy these Teletubby-like works. I’m off to have a glass of wine and watch the Golden Globes!

Trunking Around

Tom Otterness’ public works feature in many parts of New York and North America; with a few works on view in South Korea, the Netherlands and Germany. More info: Tom Otterness >> Public Art.

Sweeping pennies


Rich sheriff

Exiting now…


35 thoughts on “The Bronze Statuettes of the 14th Street – 8th Avenue Subway, NYC

  1. I LOVE the tribute to the Golden Globes! Clever photography. I had a lot of fun looking at these photos. SoCal is where I’m from though I now call Tennessee home…and am learning how to be a Southern girl…. but oh how I miss the California beaches! 🙂

    • Hi Shayna – I am watching the arrivals at the Globes as I type this. I miss the California beaches so much too! I’m glad you enjoyed the post – those little sculptures are fun to find 🙂 Thank you!

  2. my favourite subway station in ny, love it! gotta check out his art at penny park next time i’m in nyc. great post!

    • The L line is my fave subway line, so this is one of my fave stations too! You’re going to love finding these little sculptures – they’re all over the place in there! Thanks for reading!

  3. What great statues – I love the sense of humour and quirkiness of them. How clever of the MTA to do this. It Must certainly brighten up the station whilst, hopefully, sending their message out. Hope you enjoyed the Golden Globes!

    • Hi Jenny! It is a cool addition to a station that is pretty well-trodden! This was part of an art installation project commissioned by the MTA, and it’s an excellent idea, like you say. Watching Morgan Freeman receive the Cecil B. Demille award. Great stuff! Hope you got to watch The Globes too!

  4. Oh, those are really delightful and whimsical sculptures all hidden away in different places! The artist must have really spent a lot of time there thinking about the installations. What fun! Great photographs.
    The image of the little guy looking down from the top of the orange I beam is really cool. 🙂
    I love public art!
    Thanks Marina.

    • NYC is such a multi layered and multi faceted city – it’s a good subject and there’s SO much to see. Thank you for the compliment about the photos! I am loving taking pictures – I am starting to understand the camera a little more. WOW – that subway art in Stockholm is AMAZING! Is this all over the city’s subways or in certain parts only?

      • Over 90 of the 100 subway stations in Stockholm have been decorated with sculptures, mosaics, paintings, installations, engravings and reliefs by over 150 artists. The most amazing ones though are probably on the blue line. This will be another inspiration to explore cafés outside my neighborhood … I am on the Green and Red lines 😉

      • Oh wow – I would love to see your photos of these subways (if you want to take them), on the way to other cafes. It’s actually something that is inspiring me to visit to Stockholm. I want to go back to Russia too, just to see their subways again – take photos and research the history behind them. In Sydney, the train stations are the exact opposite – so modern, planned on what seems to be a ‘template’. Wouldn’t it be cool to travel the work and document their subways/train stations? Thanks for sharing this information!

  5. Hi Marina,
    These statues are delightful. Great you captured some of the less accessible ones. The chap sitting on the bench and the one balancing on the girder have got to be my favourite. A really nice post. Thank you.

    • Hi Adrian! So glad you liked the post and that I could share some of this underground art with you. I adore the little guy sitting on the bench. He makes you do a double take 🙂 Thanks for your lovely comment!

    • Hi Stuart! That snake is really cool – and I did read that a kid wanted to run away with it, though he was stopped and they bolted the snake to the ground 🙂 A flattened beer can – could that pass as street art? 😉 Thanks!

  6. a beautiful post, and a great pleasure to examine the little sculptures. How wonderful that someone with influence saw fit to brighten the trips of the many commuters. Thank you.

    • Ha! That would be cool 🙂 My mum was asked me the other day, “When will you start posting on Sydney?” And I told her that I need to be “there” to uncover all of the gems. Places change so quickly, so hope I’ll get to Oz soon and shake things up a bit on the blog! Thanks 🙂

    • Thanks Karen! I know – it becomes like that with NYC, with the myriad of subway lines. Though these little statues are an incentive to catch the subway to 8th Ave if you head to say, High Line. The statues are bolted down so they’re there – permanently!

  7. So cool for you to be able to be there 🙂 It’s like a land of beauty and glamour: D Love those little bronze fellows, they look so cute and friendly: D I love those two scraping coins of the floor 😀

    • Oh, Kristina, I miss South Cali! We lived in the OC and in LA for over two years and in winter, it was warm. The vibe is also very relaxed and outdoorsy. Maybe we’ll move back 🙂 I’m glad you like those little statues – they’re so funny and cuddly looking. Thank you 🙂

  8. Pingback: Art in New York: street art on 14th Street « Claire City Blog

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