Untitled (Richard Fleischner artwork at Alewife station)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Stacked granite blocks forming the untitled sculpture
Artist Richard Fleischner
Year 1985 (1985)
Type Granite installation art and landscape
Location Alewife station, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°23′44″N 71°08′27″W / 42.39564°N 71.14092°W / 42.39564; -71.14092Coordinates: 42°23′44″N 71°08′27″W / 42.39564°N 71.14092°W / 42.39564; -71.14092
Owner Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

Untitled is a public art installation by Richard Fleischner located in a courtyard adjacent to the Alewife station on the MBTA Red Line in northwest Cambridge, Massachusetts. The artwork - an environmental piece consisting of granite block designs among a landscape - cost $40,000 to create in 1985.[1]


Untitled is a large-scale outdoor piece, covering some 3 acres (12,000 m2) on a parcel nested between Alewife Brook Parkway (MA-2/US-3/MA-16), the main station entrance, and the massive 5-story parking garage.[2] An elongated artificial pond is surrounded by a grassy area with trees and decorative pavers, intended to be a "usable space for MBTA commuters and community residents" while also serving as part of the drainage system necessary for the large concrete garage structure.[2] Like several other works from the Arts on the Line project, Untitled includes stone monoliths. Arranged around one corner of the work, the large granite bollards are arranged mostly horizontally and vertical save for one angled block resting upon two others. The blocks were designed to be durable, lasting as long as 75 years, as per City of Cambridge public art standards applied to the project.[3]

Alewife station, location of Untitled and several other public artworks. Untitled is located approximately behind the truck on the left-hand side of the image

Untitled incorporates various elements of Fleischner's artistic style. Fleischner was primarily known at the time as an environmental sculptor who had created installations like "The Maze", an outdoor metal labyrinth at University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Untitled was intended as environmentally beneficial to the station area as well as merely artistic.[4] Other works of his also include monolithic, rectangular granite components as parts of large-scale sculptures.[5][6]


Untitled was created as a part of the MBTA and the Cambridge Arts Council's Arts on the Line program. This first of its kind program was devised to bring art into the MBTA's planned Northwest Extension of the Red Line subway stations in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and became a model for similar drives for public art across the country.[7] This installation was one of 20 artworks created for this program, out of over 400 proposals submitted by artists[8] for artworks spread out across five different newly created subway stations. The first 20 artworks, including this one, were completed with a total cost of $695,000 USD, or one-half of one percent of the total construction cost of the Red Line Northwest Extension.[7] Untitled was funded by a $40,000 grant in 1980 from the National Endowment for the Arts.[1]

Many artworks in the project produced friction between artists and architects, and Untitled was no exception. Harry Ellenzweig, who designed the brutalist station and parking garage, wanted the planned trees removed from Fleischner's design. Pallas Lombardi, who directed much of the Arts on the Line project and served as a liaison with the Cambridge City Council, recalled in a 1987 article that "Harry insisted that Richard not plant trees along the garage, saying bus exhaust would kill them, but I think perhaps he didn't want trees hiding his beautiful garage."[9] However, the artwork as finally built includes a row of trees along a footpath running around the pond. Untitled opened to the public on or shortly after March 30, 1985, when Alewife station opened.[10]


  1. ^ a b Binkiewicz, Donna M. (2004). "Appendix 4: NEA Visual Arts Program Works of Art in Public Places Grants, 1967-1980". Federalizing the Muse: United States Arts Policy and the National Endowment for the Arts, 1965-1980. University of North Carolina Press. 
  2. ^ a b Cambridge Arts Council (2002). "Arts On The Line: Alewife Station". City of Cambridge. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "City Puts Subway Art on the Line". Harvard Crimson. 4 March 1986. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Muro, Mark (22 November 1980). "Expected demise of Maze musters students" (PDF). Boston Globe. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  5. ^ "Richard Fleischner: Untitled (1997)". Public Art Program. University of South Florida Institute for Research in Art. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  6. ^ Fyfe, Joe (6 July 2011). "RICHARD FLEISCHNER". Art in America. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (3 May 1985). "Red Line Northwest Extension". The Davis Square Tiles Project. p. 5. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  8. ^ Nesbitt, Lois E. (15 February 1980). "Art Goes Under". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Wolkomir, Richard (1 April 1987). "Sculpture in the subways? Is there a better place for it?". Smithsonian. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  10. ^ Belcher, Jonathan (1 January 2013). "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" (PDF). NETransit. Retrieved 11 March 2013. 

External links[edit]

MBTA - Red Line Art Collection