Subway 2 comes from Satch’s collection. When she originally acquired it we weren’t sure if it was a “Russell.” It was so different from anything else of Jim’s work that we had viewed. While researching our book, we began to understand the breadth and variety of Russell’s work. One day we came across a small photograph of a smaller work of the same theme and materials. It was entitled Subway in Russell’s hand signed en verso. So, we decided to name the larger work in Satch’s collection, Subway 2.
As with most of Russell’s work, the obvious does not reveal the totality of the work. If you look at what appears to be heads in somewhat of an Easter Island motif as negative space, you will see profiles of people that could be sitting on passing subway cars, looking at them through the windows. Now the piece takes on more of a three dimensional feel and is filled with motion and sound. It’s interesting that Russell divided the work into an upper and lower section with the series of arrows. Are these directional markers for routes or do they have a significance that relates to the subway that is not obvious? Let us know what you see in the comments.
Years before when we were not sure if the work was a Russell, I made a photograph of the piece and titled it, Not Necessarily Russell. It was made with a plastic camera under very low light in Satch’s studio. I moved the camera a couple of different directions and held it still at the end while making what probably was a four to five second exposure.
Below is Russell’s Subway 2 and my photograph, Not Necessarily Russell. Click to enlarge.