Whirls and Twirls, Glorious Descent (New York Subway)


Sol Lewitt, “Whirls and Twirls (MTA)” (2004) (just past the main entrance at the 59th Street subway station at Columbus Circle)


Sol Lewitt is a veteran Conceptualist artist with roots in the 1970s. Conceptualism is generally understood to be an intellectual form of contemporary art. Usually what matters in Conceptualism is the idea-concept and process animating the work, not the work itself or its “quality.” 

In contrast to run-of-the-mill Conceptualism, what Lewitt blends here is idea and pleasure. I love “Whirls and Twirls” and I love public art. I love the art and the color. And I love the smell of urine that public art seems always to invite.

Whirls and Twirls, a vision of heaven. But the design element in this installation-mural that interests me the most is how Whirls and Twirls enframe the staircase going cutting into and through it. The stairs take you down, down through the body of color to the tracks below.

(for Andy Parkinson)



About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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1 Response to Whirls and Twirls, Glorious Descent (New York Subway)

  1. Thanks, I appreciate it. I love Sol Lewitt’s work and I have never seen photos of this one before. it looks fantastic. (Nice point about the small of urine by the way).

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