Art treasures lost in trade center rubble

By Jeremy Rees

By JEREMY REES

The attacks on the World Trade Center have taken a toll in art as well as human lives.

One of the world's most important collections of work by the sculptor Rodin, as well as work by Roy Lichtenstein and Joan Miro, have been buried in the rubble.

As well as being a symbol of corporate America, the center prided itself on being a showcase for modern art and commissioned works. Inside the offices of the banks, stockbrokers and corporate financiers of the twin towers hung important collections.

Cantor Fitzgerald, the bond trading firm that lost 700 of its 1000 staff, housed one of the biggest collections of sculptures by Auguste Rodin.

Its founder, Gerald Cantor, fell in love with the giant piece Hand of God, which he saw in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and began collecting by buying a version of it soon after.

Over 50 years he assembled the world's largest and most comprehensive private collection of works by Rodin - 750 sculptures, prints, drawings and memorabilia.

While some of it had been loaned out, a substantial part of the collection was destroyed when hijackers slammed jet airliners into the twin towers.

The company had proudly listed the works on its website and dedicated a gallery in its offices on the 105th floor of the North Tower, calling them its "e sky".

The world's largest art insurer, AXA Nordstern Art Insurance, estimates that $US100 million ($246 million) of art was destroyed. The September 11 attacks will represent the largest volume of art claims from a single event, and the firm has already set aside $US20 million to cover the towers alone, let alone any damage in surrounding buildings.

The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council rented space in the center for artists to work and display their art.

Installation artist Michael Richards, from Miami, was killed when the planes hit.

The center was dotted with art and sculptures.

Guide books to New York are filled with references to the works that could be seen in its large foyers and wide open plazas.

Among the best known was a tapestry by Joan Miro and Josep Royo, called World Trade Center, especially made for the center in 1974.

Royo told Art Daily: "We will not rebuild it because it would not be the same.

"When one falls in love for the first time it is beautiful. A sweet memory remains."

Roy Lichtenstein, the pop artist, had a painting from his famous Entablature series from the 1970s in the lobby of Building Seven. His 10m sculpture Modern Head appears to have survived.

Tom Eccles, the director of the Public Art Fund, a non-profit group providing art for the city, told the San Francisco Examiner: "I feel it's a great loss.

"But you cannot divorce the loss of the art from the greater loss of life."

One artwork to survive has become almost an icon of the disaster. Double Check, by J Seward Johnson jun, a bronze sculpture of a businessman peering inside his briefcase, has been photographed, covered in dust, almost as an unofficial memorial to the dead office workers.

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