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 also collected. In Munich during the mid-1950s, he produced a series of sculptures titled 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 in Brussels of 1957. His initial work portrayed figures or groups of figures using flat and stylized shapes. However, during the 1960s, he turned toward heavily symbolic abstraction. In 1964 he also started teaching at the Munich Technical College.

Towards the end of the 1960s, he was commissioned to create the sculpture Sphere, which was placed at the foot of New York’s Twin Towers in 1971. 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 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 become the focus of Koenig’s artistic research towards the end of his life. His drawings are, in fact, an autonomous body of work that runs parallel to his sculptural activity. Koenig died in Landshut, Germany on February 22, 2017.