- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 23, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) Millions of dollars worth of art, including works by Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, Joan Miro and Roy Lichtenstein, was damaged or destroyed by the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
"The terrorist attack not only destroyed human lives, but it was an attack on our financial community, on our freedoms, on our very culture and civilization," said Sally Webster, professor of art history at City University's graduate center and Lehman College.
With the exception of work by Miro, the art in the Trade Center was done by Americans, she said.
"That their work should be attached to this important symbol of our city and country was not accidental," Miss Webster said. "This was us at our best."
The works, reportedly worth about $10 million, include a bright-red, 25-foot Calder sculpture, the 1971 "Red Stabile," at 7 World Trade Center; a painted wood relief by Nevelson titled "Sky Gate, New York," which hung in 1 World Trade Center; a painting by Lichtenstein from his "Enablature" series that had been in the lobby of 7 World Trade Center; and Miro's "World Trade Center" tapestry from 1974 that was on display in 2 World Trade Center.
It is not yet known how many of the works are salvageable.
But Karen Yager, an independent conservator working for various downtown art groups, said that one of Nevelson's works looked good, as did a piece by Dubuffet. Glimpses of Lichtenstein's 30-foot sculpture, "Modern Head," covered in dust and debris, have been seen on television news clips.
"Over time, we're worried about acidity and stuff like that eating into the stone work of buildings with carved facades and decorative elements," she said.
Great works of art, sometimes linked to a nation's spirit or history, often have been threatened or destroyed by acts of terrorism or war.
During World War II, many important works were destroyed in Europe. And in 1920, during strife in Germany, stray bullets damaged the Rubens painting "Bathsheba." Most recently, Taliban rulers in Afghanistan blew up two giant statues of Buddha, chiseled into a cliff in the central Bamiyan Valley more than 1,500 years ago.
The Taliban said the art was idolatrous and against the tenets of Islam.
But at times, some art has been saved.
During the War of 1812, first lady Dolley Madison rescued a famous Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington from the White House as the British entered Washington. And during World War II, many priceless works of art were removed from American museums and placed in protected vaults for safekeeping because of fears of possible attacks on U.S. soil.
In the rubble of the Trade Center, the remains of "Double Check," a bronze sculpture by J. Seward Johnson Jr. of a businessman looking inside his briefcase, has become a makeshift memorial, with a bouquet of flowers and a note scrawled on a piece of white, lined paper: "In memory of those who gave their lives to try and save so many."
It is signed by almost a dozen people.
"It's rather weird that such an easy, forgettable work should become so poignant," said Tom Eccles, director of the nonprofit Public Art Fund, which places artwork throughout the city.
The attacks will not lessen the demand for public art, Mr. Eccles said, but themes will probably change. Miss Webster agreed.
"The demand will be for works that are more hefty, less decorative and corporate-feeling," she said. "I think works will be more interactive rather than a piece of sculpture in a plaza or a tapestry on the wall."
Bruce Ferguson, dean of the Graduate School of the Arts at Columbia University, said that over the past decade much public art has reflected an urban irony and cynicism.
"Artists have often dealt with the dark side of the world, and have made works of art symbolic of those moments which help us to work our way through the traumas," he said, citing Goya's "Disasters of War" series and Picasso's "Guernica," a protest against the bombing of a Basque town during the Spanish Civil War.
"Perhaps there will be a 'Guernica' of the World Trade Center," added Casey Blake, director of the American Studies program at Columbia. "The mural was a reaction to the aerial bombing of civilians. This is the terrorist equivalent and maybe someone will be able to capture the primal scream we are feeling."


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