“ARTWORKS, LIKE CIVILIZATIONS, ARE NOT IMMORTAL.”
Unlike Alexander Calder’s Bent Propeller, which was crushed into a tangle of smoldering steel, Fritz Koenig’s Sphere was the only artwork at ground zero to have emerged largely intact. “It’s peeking out of the rubble,” the elated German sculptor told a film crew a few days after 9/11. “I saw it on TV. It’s a miracle!” Commissioned by Twin Towers architect Minoru Yamasaki in 1967, at 25-feet-tall and over 20 tons, it became the world’s largest bronze sculpture when it was unveiled four years later in recognition of “world peace through trade.” It sat at the center of an 82-foot-diameter fountain in the middle of the plaza and rotated around its axis once every 24 hours. “It is an optical bridge between humanity and that which is inexplicable,” Koenig once said of his best-known work.
After 9/11 the Sphere was cleaned up, but the damage was left mostly unrepaired as a stark reminder of the brutal scale of that day’s destruction. It spent 15 years in Battery Park before eventually finding a permanent home in Liberty Park, overlooking the 9/11 Memorial, in 2017. The acre-sized elevated park also includes works by sculptor Douwe Blumberg and Japanese muralist Dragon76.