Art installation by Anton Lehmden at the U3 station Volkstheater

Art in the Subway

The subway lines U1, U2 and U3 are Vienna's "art lines". For over 20 years, works of art have been placed in many stations to make the stops more attractive. 1.5 million people visit the subway stations every day and are able to enjoy the art.

International artists such as Ken Lum, Nam June Paik and Anton Lehmden as well as Austrian masters like Gottfried Kumpf have provided works - ranging from modern installations to wall murals and sculptures. Perhaps the best-known subway work in Vienna is "Nature in the Making" (Das Werden der Natur) by Anton Lehmden at the U3 station Volkstheater: The Big Bang and the formation of nature are depicted on three giant walls. Four million mosaic stones were affixed over an area of 360 m².

Overall, more than 20 works of art can now be admired on Vienna's subway system. And the number is set to grow: In September 2013, the "Kulturpassage" was opened at Karlsplatz, which connects the U1, U2 and U4. At its center: a 70 x 3 meter work of art by the Austrian artist Ernst Caramelle. The painting on the long side wall of the pedestrian passage is divided into eight panels, each occupied with simple, spatial constellations. The fresco is weakly reflected in the opaque glass wall opposite, while additionally placed mirrors allow individual details to flash momentarily as you walk on past. Also to be seen at Karlsplatz is an installation by Peter Kogler on the U1/U2 mezzanine.

The permanent installation "3 Brothers" by the Brazilian artist Speto was created in 2014 on 14 concrete columns near the new campus of the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration at Krieau station (U2): an homage to the Villas-Boâs brothers, who in the mid-1940s traveled to Brazil for the purpose of colonizing undeveloped areas of the jungle, where they became committed proponents of indigenous rights.

In addition to the art projects, excavations can also be seen in several stations on the U1 and U3 lines, in some cases from Roman times. And many subway stations are works of art in their own right, such as the U4 and U6 stations designed by the master architect Otto Wagner around the turn of the 20th century.

Book tip: "Wiener U-Bahn-Kunst. Moderne Kunstwerke. Archäologische Funde. Zeitlose Architektur" (Vienna Subway Art. Modern Artworks. Archeological Finds. Timeless Architecture)
Published by Wiener Linien, Vienna 2011.

Art in Public Spaces

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