Art@Site Jonathan Borofsky Molecule Man

Jonathan Borofsky


Molecule Man

Federal Building. Roybal Building
Strongly in contact
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?
In Los Angeles the artwork is standing near a street and in front of an office. In a location like this, an artwork need to share attention with the surroundings.
A larger copy this artwork is also standing near the center of Berlin (more information), 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, so the Berliners will 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.
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.