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Fritz Koenig was born in Wüzburg, Germany on June 20, 1924. He studied sculpture at the Akademie der Künste, Munich, from 1946 to 1952, and in 1951 he spent a year in Paris. During this time his work was inspired by African sculpture, which he collected. In Munich during the mid 1950s, he produced a group of sculptures called Cattle, which were close in style and form to the early sculptures of Ewald Mataré. In 1957 he won a scholarship to Villa Massimo, the German Academy in Rome, where he was able to thoroughly develop his knowledge of art. His work on the theme of the “Quadriga” dates from this period, as do his bronze sculptures Golgatha and Maternitas, made for the German pavilion of the Exposition Universelle of Brussels. His initial work portrayed figures or groups of figures by using flat and stylized shapes. However, during the 1960s, he turned toward heavily symbolic abstraction. In 1964 he also started teaching at the Technical College in Munich.
Towards the end of the 1960s, he was commissioned to create the sculpture Sphere, which was placed in 1971 at the foot of New York’s Twin Towers. It is the only work of art in the World Trade Center to have survived the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. The work was restored and made a memorial to the victims, and it is now installed nearby in Battery Park. Koenig has created other memorials, including one honoring the victims of the Mauthausen concentration camp and another dedicated to the Israeli athletes killed during the 1972 Munich Olympics. The artist’s work has also been the subject of two documentaries made in 1979 and 1996 by the director Percy Adlon.
For his eightieth birthday in November 2004, the Neue Pinakothek of Munich staged an exhibition of all the artist’s work produced after 2002. Despite being renowned for his sculptures, drawing has recently become the focus of Koenig’s research. His drawings are, in fact, an autonomous body of work that runs paralell to his sculptural activity. The artist died in Landshut on February 22, 2017.