Perfect Strangers - CODAworx

Perfect Strangers

Client: MTA New York City Transit Second Ave 72nd Street Station

Location: New York, NY, United States

Completion date: 2016

Project Team


Vik Muniz

Public Art Agent

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Arts & Design

Industry Resource

MTA Construction & Design

Industry Resource

Mayer of Munich


“Perfect Strangers'” a large scale mosaic work by artist Vik Muniz, located at the Second Ave 72nd Street station, is one of four new subway stations along the newly opened Second Avenue train line. “I thought of creating these effigies of people that would be life-sized so they would mix with the flowing passengers,” Muniz said.


The artist worked closely with Mayer of Munich studio, to create more than three-dozen life-size portraits of everyday. Installed throughout the mezzanine and entrance areas, holding myriad items like soccer balls, instruments, books, satchels, flowers, tools and balloons and wearing jeans, sari’s, turbans, blazers, uniforms and animal suits, this cross section of urban life enlivens this public space and pays homage to the diverse population one encounters in New York City on any given day.


Vik Muniz, known for creating translations of photographic imagery in unconventional materials such as chocolate, diamond dust and string, brought his unique approach to portraiture to the New York City subway. With the help of artisans at Franz Mayer of Munich studio, he captured the essence of this exceptionally diverse city and its’ culture of inclusivity, in mosaic tile and glass. Staged photographs of friends and family in convincing poses were the basis for these highly detailed and vibrant mosaics. Glass mosaic tesserae and glass cake were cut and set by hand, were set positive on mesh. The backing tiles were water jet cut, according to the outline and shape of the figures. Materials included handmade and hand chopped cake glass, and stone. Airbrushing ceramic enamels onto the tiles created shadows and gradation. All colors are fired to achieve permanence.