In 1967, Fritz Koenig is commissioned by his New York gallery owner George Staempfli to design a fountain system for the plaza of the World Trade Center. Koenig tackles what he himself calls the "David/Goliath situation" by creating a formal counterweight to the towers by the architect Minoru Yamasaki (1912–1986): an almost 8-metre-high fountain sculpture on whose extremely compressed, twisted caryatid figure a huge ball rests. It was produced in a specially erected workshop on the grounds of the artists' estate. After its completion, the monumental sculpture was shipped to New York. “The Sphere" was erected there in 1972. It rotated around its own axis every 15 minutes on a fountain table made of black porphyry. 600 litres of water flowed per second from the nozzles under the bronze sculpture. The system's highly complex technology was designed at the Technical University of Munich, where Koenig had held a teaching position since 1964. Fritz Koenig's most famous work was destroyed as a fountain during the terrorist attack on 11 September, 2001 but it survived the inferno with severe damage as a sculpture, taking on a new meaning as a symbol of mourning but also of fortification. The sculpture was temporarily exhibited in New York's Battery Park before being moved to Liberty Park.
Stephanie Gilles M.A.
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