Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Sept. 11: Art Destroyed, Created in NYC," by Frederick W. Winship,

September 5, 2002, United Press International, "Sept. 11: Art Destroyed, Created in NYC," by Frederick W. Winship,


NEW YORK -- The collapse of the World Trade Center towers last Sept. 11 destroyed paintings and sculpture valued at as much as $100 million but also gave birth to a new form of art inspired by the terrorist attacks.

While insurance companies are still processing claims for fine art losses, some of the city's museums are collecting material from the Ground Zero site and photographs of the catastrophe for exhibition now and in the future. The New York Historical Society initiated this new display category last November with a show titled "New York September 11 by Magnum Photographers," a selection of the photo agency's video and still photography of the event.

Most of the art that was virtually atomized in the fiery collapse of the Twin Towers belonged to companies with offices in these buildings and several peripheral structures that were damaged. But some of the most important works had been created to beautify the World Trade Center and its plaza when they were completed in the early 1970s.

The plaza centerpiece was a large polished brass globe by Fritz Koenig, which miraculously escaped destruction although it suffered damage. It has been removed to a city park site at Broadway and Battery Place for display in its battered condition as a memorial to the Sept. 11 tragedy and may eventually be returned to the Twin Towers site when it is rebuilt, according to a City Parks Department spokesman.

Another public art object, "Modern Head," a 30-foot sculpture by Roy Lichtenstein was also found in the ruins and is currently being restored, but none of the other commissioned pieces were found. These include another Lichtenstein, a painting from his "Entablature" series of the 1970s, Alexander Calder's 25-foot "Red Stabile (1991)," Louise Nevelson's "Sky Gate, New York," a 1975 painted wood relief, and Joan Miro's " 1974 "World Trade Center Tapestry" designed for the No. 2 Tower mezzanine.

Other important corporate art collections destroyed were those of the Cantor Fitzgerald investment company, Deutsch Bank, the Merrill Lynch brokerage, and Fred Alger Management, another investment firm.

Most of the companies in the World Trade Center complex collected contemporary art but Cantor Fitzgerald was noted for its collection of bronzes by the great 19th century French sculptor, Auguste Rodin, whose work was avidly collected by the firm's late founder, George B. Cantor. One of the memorable photographs of the disaster site showed a shattered leg and foot from one of Cantor Fitzgerald's Rodins.

"These losses have been a very touchy subject, what with putting an evaluation on the lost pieces and making insurance claims," said Judi Jedlicka, president of Business Committee for the Arts, Inc., a non- profit group that links companies to the arts. "No one wants to talk about it, really, perhaps because the loss of life at the World Trade Center was much the greater loss."

Dietrich von Frank of AXA Nordstern Art Insurance, one of the major insurers of the lost art, estimated that as many as 400 companies suffered losses of art.

"I wouldn't be surprised if in the end these losses were in the range of $100 million," he said. "There are a few companies with losses in the tens of millions."

One monument in granite from the center's plaza that was shattered but retrieved was the memorial sculpted by Elyn Zimmerman to commemorate the six lives lost in the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Zimmerman said the fragments of the memorial, which was part of a fountain installation into which visitors tossed coins for good luck, will eventually be installed in a museum.

The Museum of the City of New York and the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History have taken the lead in collecting and preserving artifacts and images that document Sept. 11, and some 33 museums and other institutions around the country have come up with suggestions that are now being acted on or evaluated. Many artifacts already have been stored away for future display.

One of the outstanding exhibits so far is the Museum of the City of New York's "Manhattan Skyline" that included a number of images of the Twin Towers, including a 1992 folding screen in the Japanese style by Jonathan Shackleton showing the towers picked out in indigo on a gold leaf ground beneath a silver moon.

Other exhibits have been mounted by the International Center for Photography, the Bronx River Art Center, and a number of private galleries in Manhattan's SoHo and the East Village. A dozen wall murals depicting Sept. 11 by virtually unknown artists have cropped up around the city, the most striking one on a block-long wall facing the Long Island Expressway in Queens featuring four firemen raising a flag, a giant eagle, and the face of Miss Liberty.

(This article is part of UPI's Special Package on the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks).

"SEPT. 11: ART DESTROYED, CREATED IN NYC." United Press International. 2002. HighBeam Research. (October 3, 2010). http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-67146966.html

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