MTA Monochromes

Keith Haring drawing at 42nd St, 1983, photo by Makoto Murata via twixnmix via scavengedluxury via wernerherzoghaircut

Seeing these photos of Keith Haring drawing on the subway platform on my tumblr dashboard this morning, I was struck for the first time by the pristine surface of his background.

Did the MTA really have a street team installing fresh black monochromes on unsold ad spaces while the rest of the system buckled? How long did they stay clean? Did they go up on a schedule? Did Keith have to rush out on the first of the month to beat other street artists to the empty space? Did Richard Serra ever make drawings in the subway, or did he just make a lifetime of drawings of the subway? Subway Delivers People.

Did anyone take photos of subway stations with all black monochrome ad units, or was it the de facto state that became invisible to people who had to deal with it?

Keith Haring in the subway at 42nd at 8th, I think, photo: Ivan Dalla Tana via NYT, but the Haring Foundation has a ton of his photos of subway drawings, including a lot of diptychs with ads

[after 30 seconds of googling update: yeah nevermind, Haring’s subway landscape was not a monochrome’d out paradise. It looked a lot like it’s always looked, with occasional blacked out ad boards interspersed among actual ads. Which would make his tagging more opportunistic. He probably didn’t have to look too hard for space, but it wasn’t everywhere all the time.]