Reviewing the MBTA’s subterranean aesthetic
Next time a smirking subway conductor cackles wickedly while closing the folding doors in your face, don’t get angry. Take a deep breath. Look around. And drink in the calming beauty of the art that surrounds you. Say what you will about the powers that be at the MBTA, but at least they’re trying, dammit. Trying to palliate your grubby, soul-crushing commute with the airy enlightenment of aesthetic self-expression. Since the first bristles were swept across the craggy ceilings of Lascaux, man has aspired to elevate his better nature via the creation of visual art. And so the MBTA seeks to enliven its dark and musty tunnels with dozens of sculptures, installations, mosaics, and wall hangings — objets d’art, it is hoped, that will increase the enjoyment, however slightly, of a journey that’s often less than pleasant.
THE SILVER LINE: might be considered the runt of Boston’s public-transportation litter, but its art — including the clean, modern designs at Courthouse station (seen above) — represents some of the T’s best.
Some of it is conceptually and aesthetically worthwhile. Some of it is execrably bad. Some of it is laughably out of date. And some of it is entirely unintentional.
As it happens, KENMORE Station has a little bit of the first three. “Do not confuse with the beautiful what other periods called the beautiful,” once wrote French Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix. “Go further: be bold enough in almost every case to say that what was the beautiful thirty or forty years ago is now the ugly.” He’s got a point. Just look at the high-contrast enameled eyesores that pass for art in the bowels of Kenmore Station. They may have been trendy when unveiled in the late ’60s/early ’70s, but it’s doubtful they were considered especially beautiful, even then.
: Lifestyle Features
, Eugene Delacroix, James Hull, Nam June Paik, More