Now, for those passing through New York City’s 23rd Street Station in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, there’s a little eye-catching humor to go with one’s commute. There, a series of colorful, larger-than-life mosaics feature Weimaraner dogs in human poses and clothing—the work of the famous artist/photographer William Wegman, who lives nearby. The installation, entitled Stationary Figures, is made up of 11 large, detailed mosaic murals throughout the underground warren that is the 23rd Street Station, and was commissioned by MTA Arts and Design.
The mosaics feature Flo and Topper, two of Wegman’s Weimaraners, in iconic poses. The pieces originated as photographs, and were transformed into the tile murals by Mayer of Munich, a German mosaic and glass workshop. Artisans converted Wegman’s photographs into intricate mosaics composed of hundreds of thousands of pieces of glass. Each panel took over six months to create, and the entire effort took two years. The mosaic installation occurred during an extensive four-month renovation that was completed in late 2018.
Wegman composed the pieces so that Flo and Topper would resemble typical public transit commuters. In some murals, the dogs are positioned very close together, as if standing on a crowded platform. In several of the pieces, the dogs wear human clothes, including a plaid flannel shirt, a black zippered jacket, a yellow topcoat, and a fire engine–red slicker with matching Sou’wester hat.
Although classically trained as a painter, Wegman attained international fame as a photographer and videographer. In the early 1970s, he adopted his first Weimaraner, Man-Ray, who became the central figure in Wegman’s photographs and videos, and quickly achieved a cult following.
For over four decades, Weimaraners have been Wegman’s artistic muses and the models for his vast portfolio. Their depictions appear in galleries and museums around the world; their stunning, silver-gray coloring, elegant stance, and almost-human facial expressions create humorous yet often hauntingly beautiful compositions.
Know Before You Go
The station is located at the intersection of 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) in Manhattan, with several entrances in the area. The murals are underground and placed throughout the station.