Hammering Man

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Hammering Man
ArtistJonathan Borofsky

Hammering Man is a series of monumental kinetic sculptures designed by Jonathan Borofsky which have been installed in various cities around the world. This project was structurally engineered by Leslie E. Robertson Associates (LERA). The first one was a 3.4 m high sculpture at Paula Cooper Gallery made out of wood. Some installations in various museums followed. Outside U.S. installations followed 1985 in Dallas, 1988 in La Jolla and L.A., European installations in Basel 1989, Frankfurt 1990, and others.



Hammering Man in Frankfurt am Main.

The most prominent Hammering Man is 21 metres tall and was commissioned in 1990, for the new Messeturm (exhibition tower) building at the Frankfurt Trade Fair.[1][2] (50°06′45″N 8°39′10″E / 50.11250°N 8.65278°E / 50.11250; 8.65278)

Also in the same city was an unofficial 6 ft tall copy of the Hammering Man in the Hülya-Platz (in the district Bockenheim, 50°7′25.29″N 8°38′23.00″E / 50.1236917°N 8.6397222°E / 50.1236917; 8.6397222) where the hammer, which could be moved with a hand crank, demolished a swastika.

The sculpture was donated by a citizen's group against neo-nazism to commemorate the Solingen arson attack of 1993. The sculpture was often vandalised and in April 2007 it was demounted and scrapped after becoming so badly damaged and corroded that it was considered a danger for public safety.[3]

The sculpture has since been replaced by a successor.[4]


Hammering Man in Seattle is 14.6 m (48 feet) tall, 76 cm (30 inches) wide and 18 cm (7 inches) deep, and weighs 26,000 pounds[citation needed]. He is located directly in front of the Seattle Art Museum (47°36′25.31″N 122°20′17.20″W / 47.6070306°N 122.3381111°W / 47.6070306; -122.3381111) and made out of hollow-fabricated steel with a mechanized arm of aluminum, an electric motor and flat black automotive paint. He was built in 1991 at a cost of $450,000. Original funding was provided by the Virginia Wright Fund in honor of Prentice Bloedel; City of Seattle 1% for Art funds;[5] the Museum Development Authority and PONCHO (Patrons of Northwest Civic, Cultural and Charitable Organizations).

During installation on September 28, 1991, the first sculpture fell and had to be replaced.

Hammering Man's arm "hammers" silently and smoothly four times per minute 20 hours a day. It runs on a 3-hp electric motor set on an automatic timer. Hammering Man rests his arm 1–5 a.m. each morning as well as every year on Labor Day.

The sculpture was fabricated by Lippincott, Inc., North Haven, Connecticut and installed by Fabrication Specialities, Seattle.

On Labor Day 1993, a group of local artists led by Jason Sprinkle attached a scaled-to-fit ball and chain to the sculpture's leg.[6]


The largest Hammering Man is in Seoul, South Korea (37°34′11.67″N 126°58′20.85″E / 37.5699083°N 126.9724583°E / 37.5699083; 126.9724583) next to the Heungkuk Life Insurance building in the Gwanghwamun area of the city.

Seoul's version of Hammering Man was erected in 2002. It weighs 50 tons and stands 22 m/72 ft high.

Seoul's Hammering Man strikes a blow every minute and seventeen seconds and is considered an important city landmark.

In August 2009, the city of Seoul completed a project to move the sculpture 4.8 m/16 ft closer to the sidewalk and dedicated a new small gallery park at the site. A spiral path, surrounding the statue, was created to enhance the presence of the work of art. Specially designed benches, landscaping, and lighting were added to the surrounding park to complete the effect.[7][8]

Other cities[edit]


Artist's statement[edit]

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'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.
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)[10]


  1. ^ "Hammering Man". Frankfurt Tourist Information. Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2007-12-12.
  2. ^ http://www.borofsky.com/pastwork/public/hammeringman%5Bgermany%5D/index.html
  3. ^ Frankfurter Rundschau from April 20, 2007, Pg. 29.
  4. ^ Image and text (in German) on Flickr
  5. ^ SMC 20.32 (Ordinance 102210, 1973)http://www.seattle.gov/arts/publicart/ordinance.asp
  6. ^ Hackett, Regina (May 25, 2005). "Jason Sprinkle, 1969-2005: Celebrated acts of guerilla art caused notoriety, changed him". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
  7. ^ "Hammering Man Moves Closer to People". City of Seoul. english.seoul.go.kr. September 1, 2008. Archived from the original on 2012-12-03. Retrieved 2009-09-14.
  8. ^ "Statue of Hammering Man". Lonely Planet. lonelyplanet.com. Archived from the original on May 7, 2009.
  9. ^ http://www.borofsky.com/pastwork/public.htm
  10. ^ Ann Curran. "Jonathan Borofsky Nobody Knows His Name, Everybody Has His Number". Carnegie Mellon Magazine. Retrieved July 15, 2018.

External links[edit]

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