Saturday, October 2, 2010

"Art and History Lost in the 9/11 Attacks,"

September 12, 2007, Associated Content,

Published September 12, 2007
by: Elliot Feldman

The September 11 attacks not only took a horrific toll on human lives, an estimated $100 million worth of original art by some of the masters, as well as historic artifacts were also lost. These losses included 300 bronze Rodin sculptures alone.

Art Losses

When construction began on the World Trade Center, 1% of the construction costs were set aside to include public art. These works included a huge tapestry by Spanish artist Joan Miro, one of only two tapestries that the artist ever made. And there was also a 25-foot-tall sculpture, "Bent Propeller", by American artist Alexander Calder in the courtyard.

Paintings by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, and David Hockney were also lost.

To some, the most tragic loss of artwork may be sculptor Elyn Zimmerman's memorial to the victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Historic Losses

Not only were there significant art losses, but important historic documents and records from the 21 libraries of the 60 non-profit organizations and 22 federal government agencies were destroyed at the World Trade Center. Documents included the original letters of Helen Keller. Records included a significant part of the Broadway Theatre Archive's collection of 35,000 photographs marking the history of the American stage.

Auguste Rodin Sculptures

The headquarters of the Cantor Fitzgerald brokerage firm was in the World Trade Center. Brokerage founder B. Gerald Cantor was the world's largest private collector of Rodin sculptures. A portion of his collection was lost during the tragic event.

Artwork RecoveredAlexander Calder's 25-foot-tall sculpture "Bent Propeller" was crushed by falling debris. It's one of only two surviving works of public art commissioned for the World Trade Center. Even though much of its remains are twisted with steel building debris, Calder's grandson Alexander Rower has vowed to restore the sculpture if more pieces are found. According to Rower, about 50% of the sculpture has been found. The lost pieces are thought to have been taken to the Fresh Kills dumpsite on Staten Island along with other debris from the World Trade Center and surrounding structures.

Some art critics, however, see the Calder pieces amongst the wreckage as an unintentional piece of conceptual art. It is these critics who wonder if Calder's sculpture or any other sculpture should be restored at all.

"The Sphere", a large metal sculpture by German artist Fritz Koenig, also survived the attack. Unlike the Calder sculpture, its structure is intact with only dents and holes in it. The unrepaired sculpture is currently on display with an eternal flame as a 9/11 memorial at Battery Park.


"$100 million in fine art gone", Katherine Roth, Chicago Sun-Times, URL: (

"Sculpture crushed", Karen Kaplan, LA Times, URL:(

"Aftershocks", Kelly Devine Thomas, ArtNews, URL: (

"Found Art", Noah Adams, NPR, URL: (

"Lost Art", Jon Kalish, NPR, URL: (

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