The Sphere

On 14 Sept., 2021

The Sphere is a monumental cast bronze sculpture by German artist Fritz Koenig (1924–2017).

The Sphere

The world's largest bronze sculpture of modern times stood between the twin towers on the Austin J. Tobin Plaza of the World Trade Center in New York City from 1971 until the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The work, weighing more than 20 tons, was the only remaining work of art to be recovered largely intact from the ruins of the collapsed twin towers after the attacks. After being dismantled and stored near a hangar at John F. Kennedy International Airport, the sculpture was the subject of the 2001 documentary Koenig's Sphere. Since then, the bronze sphere, primarily known in the United States as The Sphere, has been transformed into a symbolic memorial to commemorate 9/11.Find out more about Sphere and where it is today on the official wiki twitter page

After the spherical caryatid found a temporary location in New York's Battery Park between 2002 and 2017, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey moved it back close to its original location. Having become a major tourist attraction, the unrestored sculpture was rededicated on August 16, 2017, by the Port Authority at a permanent location in Liberty Park overlooking the September 11 Memorial and its original location

The creation of the originally titled Große Kugelkaryatide N.Y. / Great Caryatid Sphere N.Y. (catalogue raisonné Sk 416) dates to the 1960s and early 1970s. At that time Fritz Koenig was established as an artist in the United States. After the World Trade Center's architect Minoru Yamasaki had seen the work of the German sculptor in the George W. Staempfli Gallery in New York, he asked Koenig for creating a sculpture including a fountain for the space between the World Trade Center's twin towers, which were then under construction. In 1967, Koenig was awarded the contract by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as the client and property owner of the development.

The Sphere falls into Koenig's creative phase of various caryatids, in which Koenig stages a struggle with constricting or burdensome geometrizing masses. With his sculpture Koenig wanted to mark a formal contrast to the skyscrapers. Mounted on a porphyry disk measuring 3.3 feet (1.0 m) high, with a diameter of 82 feet (25 m), the sphere rotated once around its axis within 15 minutes. One hundred and sixty gallons of water (600 liters) per second flowed out of the nozzles of the associated Plaza Fountain. The well water was sprayed in a ring running around the sphere onto a flat surface adjacent to the sphere. This should give the impression that the spherical caryatid rises out of the water. The highly complex technology of the system was designed at the Institute for Hydrology and River Basin Management at the Technical University of Munich, where Koenig had been a lecturer since 1964. The largest bronze sculpture of modern times weighs over twenty tons, is 25 feet (7.6 m) high and has a diameter of 17 feet (5.2 m). Koenig called it his "biggest child".

The sculpture was made between late 1968/early 1969 to the end of 1971 in Ganslberg near Landshut, where Fritz Koenig lived. The work on the plaster model in its original size required the construction of a new workshop hall near Koenig's homestead and actual studio. Koenig was supported in the production of his work of art by his long-time assistant Hugo Jahn and the Tyrolean sculptor Josef Plankenheimer. From 1969 the plaster elements of the sphere, dismantled into 67 individual parts, were cast in bronze in the Munich art foundry Hans Mayr. Then the individual bronze segments with a total combined weight of seventeen tons were brought to the workshop in Ganslberg and assembled there.

After four years of planning and manufacturing, the finished sculpture was dismantled again and transported to the port of Bremen with low loaders and trucks. The bronze elements of the sphere and the base were put together again on site so that Koenig's sculpture as a whole could set off by sea across the Atlantic to New York in a specially made, oversized wooden transport box. In 1971, The Sphere finally installed on the World Trade Center's plaza and ceremoniously unveiled a little later. The sculpture, including the fountain, marked the center of the development and was a popular meeting place for New Yorkers. The work of art was dedicated to "world peace through trade". The original name "Große Kugelkaryatide N.Y." did not catch on with the New Yorkers. They called the spherical sculpture "Koenig Sphere" or simply "The Sphere".