The Hammering Man

Sure felt good to be out and about with my camera yesterday. Seattle is such a beautiful city when it’s not raining. I took the opportunity to play the tourist…

It has been years since I visited the Seattle Art Museum. I remember when they first installed this sculpture. Personally, I didn’t really like it all that much when I first saw it; but like a lot of things, I learn to appreciate it over time. 

Jonathan Borofsky, American
Hammering Man, 1992
48′ x 30″ x 7″

Artist Statement:

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.

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 is a concept which helps to connect all of us together and yet 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. 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.

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

 

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3 Comments on “The Hammering Man

  1. I remember walking by this sculpture when we were up there.

    I like the perspective on the second shot too. I like the way you have composed the sculpture amidst the other tall buildings.

    • Personally, I like the second shot too. The first image is to show what the whole sculpture looks like; for people who are not familar. I enjoy trying different perspectives.

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