French Statue of Twin Towers as Nudes Rejected

Artist says French less offended by nudity than Americans

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French symbolism in art may have gone too far for the operators of New York's 9/11 Memorial who've rejected a bronze statue that depicts the Twin Towers as a blind-folded nude couple, Whispers has learned.

[See photos of the reactions to bin Laden's death.]

Acclaimed French sculptor Jean-Sébastien Raud has crafted a "Tribute to the victims of the World Trade Center," that has won praise around Europe and Canada where he's shown it to the public and first responders.

The three-foot high sculpture shows a nude women as most of the first tower. "The woman's nudity symbolizes timelessness and universality," he tells Whispers. "Nudity," he adds, "also symbolizes the fragility which is inherent to victims. The blindfolded eyes evoke the victims of blind terrorism."

Tower Two is shown as a nude man with the huge sword, artfully placed. "It expresses the impossible defense against the unpredicted and cowardly attack," says Raud.

Now, on the eve of the 10th anniversary of al Qaeda's attack, Raud wants to give the bronze to the 9/11 Memorial Foundation.

But, without citing reasons, the Foundation tells Whispers they won't accept it. "The memorial museum is familiar with the work and the artist but we currently have no plan accepting this into the collection," says a spokesman.

The nudity, while jarring to some, has a long tradition in memorials, says Raud, who E-mailed Whispers with other examples such as at the World War II Omaha Beach memorial in Normandy, France. "From a cultural perspective, we Europeans do not find that nudity is inappropriate when used in the context of memorial work and tributes to the past," he says.

"From my point of view, this is a real work of planetary memorial, and the tolerance of different cultural perspectives would be the clearest indicator of a shared peace, enabling our children to live a better tomorrow in a culturally pacified world," says Raud.

"However, your question regarding the nudity is far from trivial, and I am aware that this might upset American sensitivities. I would not like the nudity in this artwork to be problematic and to divert attention away from the real message which is one of peace and fraternity. This is why I have planned, upon request, an alternative version where the woman's body would be wrapped in a flag, as my intention was never to shock or perturb anyone."

So far, no request for an alternative has been made by the 9/11 Memorial.

  • See photos of reactions to Osama bin Laden's death.
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