Tottenham Court Road Tube transformed into public art gallery

A colourful new face for Tottenham Court Road Underground station was revealed on Monday (3 July).

Daniel Buren’s ‘Diamonds and Circles’ was unveiled as a permanent installation in the station’s ticket hall and entrances. Part of the £500m programme to develop Tottenham Court Road Tube into a key interchange in London, Buren’s artwork comprises brightly coloured shapes and stripes, which explore the station’s geometry.

The French conceptual artist’s first permanent public commission in the UK, he hopes commuters will enjoy the new public art display as a “beautiful bubble of oxygen for the spirit”.

Tottenham Court Road Tube sees 150,000 customers passing through every day, which will guarantee Buren’s work a vast audience. “A public work is interesting for me because you can develop the place, the people who use the space, and connections between all of these things…Museums attract only a portion of the population”, the artist explained.

Not everyone has cause to celebrate. To make way for Buren’s art, iconic mosaics by Eduardo Paolozzi, which have dominated the station since the 1980s, were dismantled and moved to Scotland for storage. The majority of the mosaics remain in place and have undergone restoration.

Head of Art on the Underground, Eleanor Pinfield, lauded the playful new dialogue between the Paolozzi mosaics and Buren’s shapes. “With works by two of the finest artists of the past fifty years, Tottenham Court Road station is a testament to the power of art in public space”, she said.

What does the term “public art” mean to you? Our art law experts explore the phenomenon here.

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