Berlin Art@Site Jonathan Borofsky Molecule Man

Jonathan Borofsky


Molecule Man

Fanny-Zobel-Strasse 25
Ode to the modern man
Three male figures meet each other. In the athletic figures you can see small openings arranged in a regular pattern. The men are slightly different: one is standing little more straight, another has the hind leg slightly stretched and the third holds his front leg a little higher. The men are having fun; they have opened their mouths. The artwork raises a few questions: why is it called molecule-man? What would be expressed with the openings in the profile? Why are these three men indicates by the title as only one man?
The shiny steel evokes the feeling of perfection. The statue is large; 10 meters or even 15 meters high. Why is the artwork standing in the water? Would the reflection of the figures in the water maybe important?
The sculpture stands near the center of Berlin, on the edge of the wide river Spree, which flows through the heart of the city.
The artwork is so large and near the center of Berlin, that you would think that the Berliners appreciate the artwork.
The image is optimistic and an ode to modern mankind. The men make close contact with each other, they are moving strong and they are having fun.
By Theo,

Compared with other artworks
Apparent technical components prove to be enlargements of eyes, mouth, fingers, shoes. The title is Le Dandy (Los Angeles, picture 1, more information). It seems that Jean Dubuffet wanted to expose vanity. It is not clear whether the work is intended as a deconstruction of the character of the person or that it’s making a joke on the person.

This person is incorporated into larger and smaller structures (Human Condition, Agenore Fabbri, Milan, picture 2, more information). It’s a pity for this man that the structures don’t seems to move and therefore this man seems quite lonely.

This statue La Demeure Humanine by Ossip Zadkine (Amsterdam, picture 3, more information) is of a wondrous beauty. The persons are connected with each other and their environment. The material is interesting. The artwork is in dialogue with other coeval works (made by Brague, Piscasso).

This strong woman Mama Branka by Nelson Carrilho (Amsterdam, picture 4, more information) is made of earth, but it is cracked and broken. The woman is looking sad and holding her head slightly turned out of pity. This bronze structure seems to be made of slices of earth. The woman is having her hands nearby and this time this generous woman is not willing to hug. She is apparently full of sorrow and needs time to process this. This is a good and important work.

The artwork Quantum Cload by Anthony Gormley (London, temporary, picture 5, more information) once stood on a structure inside the Thames, with on the background the elements air and water. This artwork is a good starting point for a creative and meaningful artwork that makes use of the elements which are surrounding the artwork.
By Theo,
Die Figur des Bildhauers Jonathan Borofsky wurde im Mai 1999 hier aufgestellt. Sie wurde von der Allianz-Versicherungs AG als Kunst am Bau für ihr Bürogebäude in Auftrag gegeben. Die drei Männer symbolisieren die drei Berliner Bezirke Treptow und Friedrichshain (ehemalige Ostberliner Bezirke) sowie Kreuzberg (Westbezirk), die hier an der Spree aufeinander treffen und jahrzehntelang voneinander getrennt waren. Durch die Bezirksreform im Jahr 2001 wurden die Bezirke Friedrichshain und Kreuzberg zu einem Bezirk zusammengelegt.
Das Kunstwerk steht im Wasser auf fünf Eisenpylonen montiert. Sie besteht aus drei Leichtmetallscheiben, die die Silhouette dreier Männer wiedergeben. Sie treffen im Winkel von 120° aufeinander. Die Silhouetten sind jeweils mit zahlreichen kreisrunden Löchern perforiert. Die Oberflächen der Plastik sind so angeschliffen, dass sie das Sonnenlicht reflektieren und je nach Sonnenstand ihre Oberfläche variieren. Die drei Männer sind in Schrittstellung wiedergegeben, die Fußspitzen von zwei der beiden Männer sind miteinander verschränkt, während die Füße des dritten Mannes separat stehen. Die Arme sind verkürzt widergegeben und gehen in die Arme der jeweils gegenüberstehenden Figur über. Der Titel „Molecule Man' (in Einzahl, häufig wird der Titel fälschlich als „Molecule Men' wiedergegeben) suggeriert, dass eine einzige Figur gemeint ist, die dreifach dargestellt wird. Die Plastik steht auf 14 Meter tiefen Fundamenten. Ein von der Uferpromenade auf über das Wasser reichender Ausleger aus Stahl erlaubt dem Besucher, sich etwas zu nähern und einen anderen Blickwinkel zur Plastik einzunehmen. Am Geländer der Promenade ist eine Infotafel mit einem Foto des Künstlers und folgender Erläuterung in deutscher und englischer Sprache angebracht.
Text: Susanne Kähler.
My first Molecule Man sculptures were made in 1977 and 1978 in Los Angeles. Early molecule structures included a molecule chair, a ceramic molecule vase, a molecule figure and a model for a molecule building made from styrofoam balls. Originally, I was fascinated by this molecule idea because of the simple fact that even though we appear to be quite solid, we are in fact composed of a molecule structure which, in itself is mostly composed of water and air.
For me, this hundred-foot tall aluminum sculpture composed of three figures meeting in the center, not only refers to the lightness inside our own solid bodies, but also the figures joining in the center, refer to the molecules of all human beings coming together to create our existence. This symbolism is especially poignant for this 100-foot Molecule Man on the Spree River in Berlin since the river marked the division between East and West Berlin.
The sculpture model depicts three human form silhouettes with hundreds of holes, leaning toward each other. According to Borofsky, the holes represent "the molecules of all human beings coming together to create our existence."
Borofsky wrote the following about the work:
'My sculpture recently installed at the new Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles is titled ‘Molecule Man.’ At the time I first conceived of this sculpture, I had been fascinated by the fact that the human body, though appearing quite solid, is mostly made up of water. In fact 97% of our body is made up of a water molecule which is ‘sea’ or salt water based-leading many scientists to hypothesize that the human species originated in the ocean. It is exciting for me to be able to place this sculpture in front of the new Federal Building in Los Angeles – a building that focuses the efforts of men and women who are trying to improve the quality of our lives. (The drawing for the silhouettes of these sculptured figures was originally traced from a photograph on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, showing two college basketball players running to congratulate each other after having just won the National Invitational tournament – molecules coming together, molecules working together with common goals). Of course it is equally exciting to me that my Molecule Man sculpture is across the street from the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters and next to a new federal prison. At this one site there are three buildings, each symbolizing in their own way, the efforts of human beings to live with and respect each other. We are all made of the same molecular structure. Each of us is part of a biological chain: atoms to molecules, molecules to compounds, compounds to cells, cells to tissues, tissues to organs and finally, organs to organisms. My art is a record of my investigation of the human condition and I hope that it stimulates the visual and psychological imagination of the people who see it.'
This statement by the artist comes from the SOS! Files held by the Helen Topping Architecture and Fine Arts Library at USC.
Borofsky’s 'Molecule Man' is designed with four 32’ high aluminum plates which have been cut in the silhouette form of four athletes embracing after a championship victory. The arms all meet in the center of the piece, and the balance of tensions visible in the figures’ limbs creates an inherently stable work. A feeling of transparency is achieved through the introduction of holes in the aluminum plates and through highly reflective surfaces.
This is a vivid image of merging. The figures are almost embracing. The men are fully engaged in their motion. The bodies are depicted in flat 2D profile. The monumental figures are covered in holes to depict what Borofsky saw as 'molecules of human beings coming together to create an existence'. Despite the immense size of the sculpture, there is a lightness and uplifting quality provided by these numerous holes scattered through the bodies. The men appear to walk easily on top of the waters. The artist plays with the concept that our solid physical bodies are composed of molecules. All these minuscule pieces creating our existence.
Jonathan Borofsky (* 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts) is an American artist. Jonathan Borofsky lives and works in Main.
Deutsch: Jonathan Borofsky (* 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts) ist ein US-amerikanischer Künstler.