Sunday, September 11th, 2011

From September 2001: A Tribute to the Twin Towers

Michael Richard (1963-2001).  Courtesy of
Michael Richard (1963-2001). Courtesy of


One of the earliest articles posted to artcritical, ten years ago, was a tribute I wrote to the Twin Towers in the week following their destruction.  “The Stones of New York” is offered here by way of commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  As the article was at pains to point out, and as should be repeated here, the loss of the buildings was a small footnote to the loss of any innocent life on that ghastly day (the exaggerated death toll in the article reflects what had been the current estimate when it was written).

This opportunity should also be taken, therefore, to remember Michael Richards (1963-2001), the only artist – and my sole personal acquaintance – known to have  died at the World Trade Center.  In the most bizarre of coincidences, Michael was a sculptor who explored  imagery of aviation and martyrdom in his work.  The New York-born Jamaican artist was fascinated by  the Tuskegee Airmen, the elite team of black air-force pilots during World War II, and his best known work was actually a body cast of himself as St. Sebastian pierced with model airplanes in the place of arrows.  He was in a studio of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council on one of the high floors of the Trade Center when the planes struck.

The article from September 15, 2001 (from when was still the personal website of David Cohen) was never migrated to our renovated site in 2010 as is reflected in its vintage design.

Michael Richards, Tar Baby vs St Sebastian, 1999.  Estate of the Artist
click to enlarge
Minoru Yamasaki at the newly completed World Trade Center
Minoru Yamasaki