In October 2017, New York Magazine launched its 50th anniversary celebration with a special issue called “My New York.” On the cover, the artist Alex Katz revisited the “Subway Drawings” series he made when studying at Cooper Union in the 1940s. Seventy years later, he returned to the C train and sketched what New York City looks like to him right now.
That brief — show us New York City, now, in the form of a New York Magazine cover — was also sent to 49 other New York City artists, and the covers they created were shared across the boroughs in a rolling, year-long public art exhibition. Covers by Kerry James Marshall, Yoko Ono, Shirin Neshat, Eric Fischl, George Condo, Barbara Kruger, KAWS, Hank Willis Thomas, Judy Chicago, Nina Chanel Abney, and many more were mounted in the Port Authority, projected in Downtown Brooklyn, wheat-pasted around Lower Manhattan, distributed as posters on 125th Street, and otherwise scattered across the city. Some artists depicted what their city looks like (taxis, neighbors) while others were more interested in what it feels like (at times like global headquarters for the fight against our hometown president). Some covers send messages and others share something intimate; some inspire warmth, others anxiety and nostalgia and heartbreak and anger. Which feels to us exactly right — a messy, vibrant portrait of a city churning with energy.
Here, a gallery of the Artist Covers Project in its entirety.