Molecule Man

Molecule Man 350px
100-foot Molecule Man on the Spree River, Berlin (1998)
In art chemistry, Molecule Man refers to one of various aluminum sculptures, varying in height from 30 to 100 feet, made American sculpture artist Jonathan Borofsky, depicting three human shapes, each pushing or leaning towards each other, each bodies filled hundreds of holes, varying in size from about seven inches to one foot or more, each hole said to be representative of “the molecules of all human beings coming together to create our existence”.

There are four outdoor Molecule Man sculptures. The dates are: Los Angeles 1978, Yorkshire 1988, Berlin 1996, and Council Bluffs 2008. There were a few early indoor versions; but dates for these structures are not known exactly. Borofsky’s first reference to what he calls the “molecular structure of life” was circa 1978. [8] The Sports Illustrated photo that served as the "model" for the four outdoor sculptures, depicts two men are running to congratulate themselves, having won the national basketball tournament. The first Molecule Man sculptures were built in Los Angeles, in 1977 and 1978, originating because, as Borofsky says: [1]

“I was fascinated by this ‘molecule idea’, the simple fact that even though we appear to be quite solid, we are in fact composed of a molecular structure which in itself is mostly composed of water and air.”

The first 30-foot “Molecule Man” placed in Los Angeles, consisting of three aluminum figures coming together connected in the center with their arms, said to depict the chemical philosophy that: [2]

“For me, it was people—all of us are made up of molecules coming together to create the world in a sense.”

The actual original drawing of the “Molecule Man” was traced off of a magazine photograph of two college basketball players, rushing to congratulate each other for having just won the NIT [National Invitation Tournament], as depicted on the cover of Sports Illustrated. [2] The exact cover, however, seems to be difficult to locate, as it does not seem to be among the 1970 to 1978 covers. [5]

Image needed
(photograph of two college basketball players, rushing to congratulate each other for having just won the NIT [National Invitation Tournament] on the cover of Sports Illustrated [date: c.1970s?])

molecule man (art gallary) 1980
Molecule Man (LA) 350px
Sports Illustrated (Cover) circa 1977
Painted human-sized aluminum Molecule Man (1980) sculpture, depicting the original two-person SI tracing. [7]
30-foot Molecule Man, downtown Los Angeles (1978)
Jonathan Borofsky (1981) 350px

Molecule Man (Berlin) computer generated image
Borofsky drawing on mylar for Molecule Men (1981), photo by Sidney B. Felsen, Los Angeles. [9] 2007 video about the construction and installment of Borofksy's Iowa Molecule Man a $1.8 million sculpture (below right). 3D model of the Molecule Man (Berlin) by team at pivnice. [10]
molecule man with briefcase (1979)Molecule Man (yorkshire sculpture park)Molecule Man Iowa (s)
Molecule man with briefcase (1979) [7]30-foot Molecule Man, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Yorkshire, England. [6]50-foot Molecule Man, Council Bluffs, Iowa, in front of Mid America Center (2008)

The biggest "Molecule Man", to-date, 100-feet in height, is located on the Spree River, Berlin in front of the Treptowers. [4] Completed over the course of two years, circa 1996 to 1998, with the involvement of large team, commissioned by Allianz GmbH, the biggest insurance company in Europe, to be the centerpiece of their new building, built in the river so that boats can go by on either side, with the figures appearing to be standing on the water.

There is a 50-foot molecule man, constructed in 2008, in front of the Iowa West Public Art Mid-America Center, Council Bluffs, Iowa. [3]

See also
Art thermodynamics
HMS pioneers

1. Molecule Man (overview) -
2. (a) Past Work (Q&A) –
(b) Sports Illustrated Cover (c. 1977) (find image).
3. Anon. (2008). “Projects: Jonathan Borofsky’ Molecule Man”,
4. Treptowers – Wikipedia.
5. Covers (SI Vault) –
6. Yorkshire Sculpture Park – Wikipedia.
7. Past work (individual) –
8. Email communicate from Borofsky to Libb Thims 23 Aug 2010.
9. Borofsky drawing on mylar for Molecule Men (1981) – National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
10. Molecule Man (3D) - by team at pivnice.

External links
Molecule Man (sculpture) – Wikipedia.
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