Thursday, January 20, 2011

Art Notes: A Colossus With Class

New York Times, May 7, 1967,

Art Notes: A Colossus With Class,

by Grace Glueck,

The World Trade Center, the controversial (the Empire State Building hates it) twin-towered colossus designed for lower Manhattan by the architect Minoru Yamasaki, is beginning to spend the $2 million budgeted for its art and landscaping. The Port Authority, its sponsor, has already named the first of seven or eight "major" European and American artists who'll be given commissions for the $575-million project, scheduled for 1972 completion.

The first choice is Fritz Koenig, a German sculptor, whose blocky, neo-baroque bronze columns and crosses were shown here last December at the Staempfil Gallery. The 42-year old artist, who recently executed a set of bronze doors for the cathedral at Wurzburg, Germany, is working up a model for a fountain, to be set in the middle of the trade center's 5-acre plaza.

The Port Authority is playing it cool about the names of the other artists chosen. But Yamasaki, whose architectural models for the trade center and other buildings are now on view at Staempfil, notes that plans also call for a major plaza entrance work plus accessory plaza pieces, as well as sculptures and murals for the vast lobbies of each of the 1,350-foot towers.

The wiry, dimunitive [sic] architect, who in the past has commissioned such artists as Harry Bertola, Lee Du Sell, Giacomo Manzu and Masayuki Nagare to adorn his well-dressed structures, doesn't hold with the idea of working with artists during not after, a building's initial planning stage. "First the technical and economic problems must be solved,"he says with a smile. "Bring an artist in at the beginning, and he may get to think the whole thing revolves around him."

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