The Rheinorange sculpture marks the confluence of the Ruhr and Rhine rivers and thus one of the most important places in Duisburg: The River Ruhr lends the region its name, while the River Rhine provides the connection between the inland port and distant seaports. The choice of steel as the material for the artwork references one of the city’s most important industrial sectors.
The sculptor Lutz Fritsch (born 1955) created a sculpture for this location that by virtue of its sheer size (25 × 7 × 1 m, weight: 83 tons) without doubt represents one of the most important landmarks in all of Germany. No sooner than it had been erected in 1992 than it was widely considered an important monument in the cityscape. The clear orange which the artist picked as its colour symbolizes the greatest possible concentration of energy and luminescence. Its shape in turn is reminiscent of a steel girder, a block of cast steel.
Rheinorange became a symbol of new beginnings, of change and a way of identifying with Duisburg as a city. Since then, the artwork has also emerged as a kind of “road sign” of sorts for shipping, as well as a destination for hikers, cyclists (it marks the end of the Ruhr cycle trail) and a visual highlight of the annual Ruhr Marathon.
The impetus for the art work came in 1989 from the Wirtschaftsjunioren Duisburg, an association of young entrepreneurs and executives, in collaboration with Lehmbruck Museum. It was intended as a symbol for the city’s successful structural change that would be visible from afar. Within only three years the initiators had managed to raise the necessary funding in financial and in-kind donations. In 1992 the idea was then implemented together with the artist, the City of Duisburg and Lehmbruck Museum – and the sculpture soon took its place on the point. In 2016, the Wirtschaftsjunioren association also initiated conservation work on the sculpture and made this possible.