Photos by Ben Fractenberg

As a full-time reporter and photographer in New York City, I spend a lot of time taking the subway. While running from place to place, the eroded subway posters lining the walls of stations started to catch my eye. Many looked like abstract paintings, the textures and colors and lines almost perfectly placed.

I started to photograph ones that stood out to me, and as I traveled the city as a general assignment reporter for DNAInfo.com New York, I captured them for more than a year.

Photographing posters is nothing new, of course. Walker Evans famously made arresting shots of billboards back in the '30s. But my focus was less on the collage of images you often see and more on decayed subway posters as unintended abstract expressionist art.

Some remind me of specific artists like Mark Rothko or Jackson Pollock and others simply create beautiful movements, textures, color juxtapositions and intensity.

I was drawn to the bright, primary colors and what looked like sweeping, active brush strokes.
I was drawn to the bright, primary colors and what looked like sweeping, active brush strokes.
I was first drawn to the layering of images and sharp angles. Then I looked some more and a picture morphed into an almost Cubist interpretation of an angry dog.
I was first drawn to the layering of images and sharp angles. Then I looked some more and a picture morphed into an almost Cubist interpretation of an angry dog.
This felt like birds flying south through jagged clouds for the winter.
This felt like birds flying south through jagged clouds for the winter.
I think this is about our subconscious desires and fears.
I think this is about our subconscious desires and fears.
I found this one in Queens. It felt like a burning cloud or an island on fire, juxataposed with the yellow-brown edges.
I found this one in Queens. It felt like a burning cloud or an island on fire, juxataposed with the yellow-brown edges.
The stark, three-dimensionality of this image first drew me. I started to picture an empty, Dust Bowl town in the 1930s.
The stark, three-dimensionality of this image first drew me. I started to picture an empty, Dust Bowl town in the 1930s.
When I saw this I felt like it was almost a robot's interpretation of a Mark Rothko painting.
When I saw this I felt like it was almost a robot's interpretation of a Mark Rothko painting.
This one felt almost like a lost Jackson Pollock with what looks like the word "love" in the middle.
This one felt almost like a lost Jackson Pollock with what looks like the word "love" in the middle.
Just an ominous glare and thick smoke.
Just an ominous glare and thick smoke.

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Ben Fractenberg is an award-winning photojournalist and reporter covering crime, breaking news, features, courts and enterprise stories for DNAinfo.com New York. He lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn with his girlfriend and tuxedo cat, Ramone.

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