Visit our text-only page




your turn

your stations


about npr

contact npr

Browse Topics



The Art of Terror
September 11 Through the Lens of Magnum Photos

Vladislav Tamarov Listen to Scott Simon talk with Magnum photographers.

photo gallery View a gallery of photos from the book.

New York: Septermber 11

New York: September 11

Dec. 8, 2001 -- Avant-garde German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen provoked outrage in the days following the attacks on the World Trade Center by calling the flaming ruins "the greatest work of art ever."

It was hardly the time for art criticism. People were aghast at the destruction and loss of life, and trying desperately to process the enormity of the event.

Yet with time the images of Sept. 11 take on meaning that transcends the emotions of the moment. A new book of photos by artists from the renowned Magnum photographers' cooperative shows what contributor Thomas Hoepker calls the "sinister beauty" of Ground Zero.

"It's a very ambivalent feeling you have," he tells Scott Simon. "It's beautiful on one side and on the other side it's sheer horror."

As Simon walks around lower Manhattan with Hoepker and fellow Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas, he notes that they are standing in a pool of sunshine that wouldn't exist if the twin towers were still standing. But the sense of loss is pervasive, too.

"It's like a child's drawing," says Meiselas. "You want to sketch them back in."

Other Resources

The Magnum Photos homepage features more photos and information on the photographers.