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A Terrible Beauty Restored

A battered circular structure made of bronze and steel was found sitting upright in the rubble of the World Trade Center in September. Artist Fritz König's now restored Sphere pays tribute to the victims of September 11.


The Sphere of Hope and Comfort

When the twin towers of the World Trade Center caved in like a pack of cards on September 11, they buried the entire surrounding area with a mountain of debris and wreckage.

During the excavations to find survivors, search and rescue teams stumbled upon a partially dented and split ball made of bronze and steel, which had survived a gash through its centre.

Called simply, "The Sphere", the sculpture made by German artist Fritz König was one of the few salvageable works of art found in the wreckage of the World Trade Center.

Popular meeting place

For 30 years the bronze sculpture adorned the World Trade Center Plaza.

Ironically it served as "a monument to world peace through world trade", considering that it was perched near the most potent symbol of capitalism.

At 7 and a half metres high, it was a massive work of art, though still dwarfed by the over 400-metre-tall twin towers of the WTC.

The Sphere sat on a granite fountain and served as a popular meeting place for workers at the WTC at the five-acre plaza. Some called it the Globe, while children usually likened it to a great big Christmas ball.

The $ 1 million Sphere weighing about 2,041 kg has now been restored, its gleaming surface touched up. Surrounded by trees and park benches, it has now been moved to Battery Park, close to Ground Zero.

Along with another memorial called The Tribute of Light, the Sphere was dedicated to become a temporary memorial on March 11 at 0846 local time (1346 GMT) - six months to the minute after the first plane hit.

Die Sphäre mit Osterglocken

Daffodils and an American flag rest near "The Sphere" sculpture, a new temporary memorial to the victims of the terrorist attacks Monday, March 11, 2002, in New York's Battery Park. Six months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the sculpture along with a new "Tribute in Light", have been established as a way to honor and remember those lost in the World Trade Center attacks. (AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser)

"Beautiful corpse"

The 77-year-old reclusive Fritz König, who lives in Ganslberg in Bavaria was initially reluctant to have The Sphere restored.

He described it as "a beautiful corpse" when the battered sculpture was unearthed from the debris. "It is lost, just like the World Trade Center", he said in a newspaper interview.

The sculptor has previously created memorials at a Nazi concentration camp in Austria and to Israeli athletes killed at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

A different kind of beauty

But the artist has gradually reconciled himself to his patched-up sculpture and even applauded the move to include The Sphere in an interim memorial for victims of the September 11 World Trade Center attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

König attended the unveiling of The Sphere in New York yesterday and was on hand to supervise the last-minute details of his work's rebirth.

Speaking through a translator, Fritz König said in an interview with the Boston Herald that fate had only managed to lend his sculpture a transcendence he could have never imagined.

"It now has a different beauty, one I could never imagine. It now has its own life - different from the one I gave it", he said.