November 17, 2020 12:00 EST

Modern & Contemporary Art

 
  Lot 19
 

19

Fritz König (German, 1924-2017)
Schaukel

1961, signed on base, from the edition of three. Bronze with brown patina.
height: 25 in. (63.5cm)
width: 23 3/4 in. (60.3cm)
depth: 5 in. (12.7cm)

Provenance: The Artist.
Staempfli Gallery, New York, New York.
Property from a Private Corporate Art Collection, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (acquired directly from the above in 1976).

LITERATURE:
Dietrich Clarenbach, Fritz Koenig: Skulpturen Werkverzeichnis, Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2003, no. 260 (illustrated).

NOTE:
We gratefully acknowledge Dr. Dietrich Clarenbach for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.

Sculptor Fritz König is best known as a creator of memorials - both intentional and unintentional. His monuments to athletes killed in the 1972 Munich Olympics attack and to victims of the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria create powerful, site specific experiences for remembrance and reflection. König was commissioned by the architect of the World Trade Center in New York City to create a sculpture for the buildings’ plaza. The Große Kugelkaryatide, New York, described by the artist as “a head and a Cyclops” and “in some ways a self-portrait,” [1] remained the only work of art not completely destroyed by the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, and has since been reinstalled in its damaged state as a memorial to the victims. Based on his own experiences of loss and grief, König’s work speaks to the fragility of human life.

After serving as a soldier in World War II, König attended the Academy of Fine Art in Munich, studying with German sculptor Anton Hiller. He made his first trip to Paris during this time, where he fell in love with and began collecting African sculpture and masks. His early work included figures alone and in groups that were stylized but remained representational, and he gained early recognition at the German Pavilion of the Venice Biennale in 1958 and 1959. In the 1960s, he moved to a more abstract and symbolic style, dissolving the figure and yet heavily relying on it for expressing meaning. He served as chair for sculptural design at the Technical University of Munich, while his prominence in Germany and throughout the world continued. His work now resides in collections such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice. In 1993, König and his wife donated their property in Landschut, Germany to start a museum in the artist’s honor, housing his sculpture and personal art collection.

Of the five sculptures included here from a Private Corporate Collection, Schaukel (lot 19) and Korona (lot 20) from 1961 are both solid, substantial works that maintain a delicate balance within the space around them. Schaukel in particular appears to float and sway on its slender support. The three works from the 1970s (lots 30-32) recall figures moving together through space in a delicate dance. They are smaller-scale versions of forms made to human scale from the same period, to be walked around in space, as the artist experimented with similar forms at different scale. These mid-career explorations provide insight into an iconic artist whose work reverberates today with resilience and strength.

[1] David W. Dunlap, “Fritz Koenig, Sculptor of Trade Center ‘Sphere,’ Dies at 92,” New York Times, February 27, 2017.

Sold for $53,125
Estimated at $15,000 - $25,000


 

1961, signed on base, from the edition of three. Bronze with brown patina.
height: 25 in. (63.5cm)
width: 23 3/4 in. (60.3cm)
depth: 5 in. (12.7cm)

Provenance: The Artist.
Staempfli Gallery, New York, New York.
Property from a Private Corporate Art Collection, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (acquired directly from the above in 1976).

LITERATURE:
Dietrich Clarenbach, Fritz Koenig: Skulpturen Werkverzeichnis, Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2003, no. 260 (illustrated).

NOTE:
We gratefully acknowledge Dr. Dietrich Clarenbach for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.

Sculptor Fritz König is best known as a creator of memorials - both intentional and unintentional. His monuments to athletes killed in the 1972 Munich Olympics attack and to victims of the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria create powerful, site specific experiences for remembrance and reflection. König was commissioned by the architect of the World Trade Center in New York City to create a sculpture for the buildings’ plaza. The Große Kugelkaryatide, New York, described by the artist as “a head and a Cyclops” and “in some ways a self-portrait,” [1] remained the only work of art not completely destroyed by the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, and has since been reinstalled in its damaged state as a memorial to the victims. Based on his own experiences of loss and grief, König’s work speaks to the fragility of human life.

After serving as a soldier in World War II, König attended the Academy of Fine Art in Munich, studying with German sculptor Anton Hiller. He made his first trip to Paris during this time, where he fell in love with and began collecting African sculpture and masks. His early work included figures alone and in groups that were stylized but remained representational, and he gained early recognition at the German Pavilion of the Venice Biennale in 1958 and 1959. In the 1960s, he moved to a more abstract and symbolic style, dissolving the figure and yet heavily relying on it for expressing meaning. He served as chair for sculptural design at the Technical University of Munich, while his prominence in Germany and throughout the world continued. His work now resides in collections such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice. In 1993, König and his wife donated their property in Landschut, Germany to start a museum in the artist’s honor, housing his sculpture and personal art collection.

Of the five sculptures included here from a Private Corporate Collection, Schaukel (lot 19) and Korona (lot 20) from 1961 are both solid, substantial works that maintain a delicate balance within the space around them. Schaukel in particular appears to float and sway on its slender support. The three works from the 1970s (lots 30-32) recall figures moving together through space in a delicate dance. They are smaller-scale versions of forms made to human scale from the same period, to be walked around in space, as the artist experimented with similar forms at different scale. These mid-career explorations provide insight into an iconic artist whose work reverberates today with resilience and strength.

[1] David W. Dunlap, “Fritz Koenig, Sculptor of Trade Center ‘Sphere,’ Dies at 92,” New York Times, February 27, 2017.

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