Art@Site Jonathan Borofsky Hammering Man

Jonathan Borofsky


Hammering Man

California Mart
Hammering Man is one of many kinetic sculptures around the globe by Jonathan Borofsky. His sculptures in the Hammering Man series represent the worker in all of us.
"The Hammering Man was commissioned in 1990 by Jerry Speyer for the new Messeturm building in Frankfurt (designed by Helmut Jahn). The Hammering Man is a symbol for the worker in all of us. The motorized arm of the hammering man continuously swings its hammer back and forth - from the mind to the hand and back again. We all use our minds and our hands to create our world. I like to say that between the mind and the hand, there is the heart.
I made my first 'worker' (Hammering Man) in 1979, when I used it as part of my installation at the Paula Cooper Gallery. I cut this first Hammering Man out of plywood (3.4m tall), painted it black and got some help with the motor for the arm. My original concept was to have many Hammering Men, all hammering at different locations around the world - all at the same time - sort of a worldwide installation connecting us all together. In fact, today there are quite a few wooden "indoor" Hammering Men (of different sizes) that hammer in different places, as well as several large steel outdoor variations. Other outdoor Hammering Men are in Seoul, Los Angeles, Dallas, Basel and Seattle."
Hammering Man is a series of monumental kinetic sculptures by Jonathan Borofsky. The two-dimensional painted steel sculptures were designed at different scales (from approximately 12 feet to 49 feet high), were painted black, and depict a man with a motorized arm and hammer movement to symbolize workers throughout the world. They were structurally engineered by Leslie E. Robertson Associates (LERA).
Jonathan Borofsky: "The Hammering Man is a worker. The Hammering Man celebrates the worker. He or she is the village craftsman, the South African coal miner, the computer operator, the farmer or the aerospace worker-the people who produce the commodities on which we depend. This Hammering Man is 48 feet tall. It is constructed of steel (hollow-fabricated) and weighs over 20,000 pounds. A structural steel base-plate is bolted to a cement-block footing below ground level so that the architect's chosen material for the plaza can be brought up to flush to the feet of the sculpture. The Hammering Man appears to be standing (and working) on the plaza without a base in between. The black silhouette of the figure is, in fact, 30 inches wide: body (10 inches), arm (10 inches), space between arm and body (10 inches), as well as an extra 16 inches width at the top for the motor. The motorized hammering arm will move smoothly and meditatively up and down at a rate of four times per minute. Electricity runs from the motor down inside the sculpture and under the plaza to an on-off switch location. The Hammering Man is set on a timer and rests during evening and early morning hours. The sculpture has been sited so that the many pedestrians and drivers moving up and down First Avenue can enjoy the animated form while contemplating the meaning of the Hammering Man in their own lives."
Jonathan Borofsky: "This sculpture is the second largest Hammering Man on the planet. A taller version is in Frankfurt, Germany. My goal is to have several different Hammering Men placed around the world-all working simultaneously. Other big outdoor versions of this work are in Japan and Switzerland. In the U.S. there are Hammering Men sculptures in New York, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Washington D.C., among other places. It's a concept which helps to connect all of us together and also gives each specific Hammering Man site the potential for its own personal interpretations. The State of Washington is known for its aerospace, electronics, timber, fishing, agriculture, and gold mining industries-people working with their hands, or manual labor. Let this sculpture be a symbol for all the people of Seattle working with others on the planet to create a happier and more enlightened humanity."
Jonathan Borofsky: "I want this work to communicate to all the people of Seattle-not just the artists, but families, young and old. I would hope that children who see the Hammering Man at work would connect their delight with the potential mysteries that a museum could offer them in their future. At its heart, society reveres the worker. The Hammering Man is the worker in all of us. Jonathan Borofsky (Spring 2002).
Jonathan Borofsky (born December 24, 1942) is an American sculptor and printmaker who lives and works in Ogunquit, Maine.
Jonathan Borofsky's most famous works, at least among the general public, are his Hammering Man public art sculptures. Hammering Man has been installed in various cities around the world. The largest Hammering Man is in Seoul, Korea and the second largest is in Frankfurt, Germany. Other Hammering Man sculptures are in Basel, Switzerland, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, Seattle, Gainesville, FL, Washington, D.C. and Lillestrøm, Norway.
In 1989 developer Harlan Lee commissioned Borofsky’s 30-foot-tall Ballerina Clown, a building-mounted kinetic aluminum, steel and fiberglass public art sculpture for a mixed use residential and commercial building in Venice, California in 1989. The clown sculpture's right leg was motorized with a kicking motion. Tenant complaints followed about the sculpture's mechanical noise and after years of in-operation the kinetic leg component was restored in 2014 to move only intermittently. Another Ballerina Clown was installed in the Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst in Aachen, Germany. This version dates from 1991 and was part of the Metropolis exhibition at Gropiusbau Berlin that year.
In 1990, the Newport Harbor Art Museum commissioned Ruby, a 5-foot-tall plastic sculpture containing an internal lighting system and swaying, diamond-shaped light deflectors.
Between 1989 and 1999, Borofsky completed a series of Molecule Man public art sculptures consisting of three connected perforated aluminum sheets, ranging in height from 11 feet to 100 feet. Three of his 100-foot Molecule Man sculptures were set directly into the Spree River in Berlin as a commission for German insurance company Allianz.
In 2004, the Municipal Art Society of Baltimore commissioned Jonathan Borofsky to create his 51-foot (15.5 m) Male/Female aluminum sculpture as the centerpiece of a re-designed plaza in front of Penn Station to celebrate its 100th anniversary. The sculpture was a gift to the City from the Society.
In May 2006, Borofsky's Walking to the Sky was permanently installed on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University near the intersection of Forbes Avenue and Morewood Avenue in Pittsburgh. The piece was temporarily installed at Rockefeller Center during the fall of 2004 and in 2005 at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas.