"Hammering Man" Fan Club
Sculptures by Jonathan Borofsky

Explore the exciting and ubiquitous world of "Hammering Man." See pictures of the mighty hammerer himself in some of the many settings he's found in. And learn the five reasons I love "Hammering Man."

In solidarity with oppressed workers everywhere, this page scrolls horizontally.

"This lasagne-legged, noodle-necked, flatironed android . . ." (Waldman)



To Jeff's Messy Desk
                         © 2001 Jeff Brooks mtic@aol.com

Seattle's "Hammering Man." Provincial Center Makes Good! We have Microsoft, we have Starbucks, we have the scrappy dot-com innovators -- and we have Hammering Man. They'll never call us a "cultural dustbin" again, dammit!

Reason I like "Hammering Man" #1:

He's Big

The Seattle "Hammering Man" stands 48 feet high. 26,400 pounds (so heavy, in fact, that while being installed, he broke out of the sling that was holding him and collapsed to the street, where he lay like the dimensionless cut-out that he is.

And that's not even the biggest one!

Here's Borofsky talking about the Joy of Size:

"I'm . . . very happy with an 80 foot Hammering Man in Frankfurt which happens to be placed at one of the entrances to the city . . . . As the cars drive under it, its three-ton arm raises and lowers. It's more pleasing for me to have my Hammering Man in Frankfurt with twenty thousand cars driving under it every day for the next hundred years than some painting I could sell to a collector . . . . I was getting tired of doing these interior shows. That's why I started making larger outdoor pieces."

from an interview in Zing Magazine



 Reason I like "Hammering Man" #2:

He's Political

Well, you know, he Makes a Statement. About the Working Man . . . The sorta stupid Working Man who stands around in public places uselessly bonking something in his hand with an ambiguous hammer. About oppresssion. Yeah. ". . . the village craftsman, the South African coal miner, the computer operator, the farmer, the aerospace worker . . . the worker in all of us." (says Borofsky). About the Power of Art. Its power to commoditize itself like software or expensive coffee.

Somehow, the artist's contempt for actual work is what shines through here -- a sort of yuppy-come-lately statement. Perfect for the New World Order.

 Reason I like "Hammering Man" #3:

He's Art

Yep: $450,000 worth of Grade-A Art. If a soap opera needed a "Famous Avant-Garde Artist," I think Borofsky could play it. This piece, and the posturing that forms around it, exhibitseverything conventional about art, artists, the adoring art public, and the strange-tasted selection committees who pay for it. Thank you, Seattle Art Museum, for bringing yet another copy of this reminder of what culture has come to in the West.

Here's Borofsky on the Art Biz: "I'm involved in a very competitive field called art. You can't get away from it. There's good and the bad ... [when] I'm up against the best in the world, I tend to put out a major effort because I don't want to appear bad or something."
(quoted in Art in America, November 1981)

Seattle (and many other cities) thank you for the "major effort," Mr. B!

 Reason I like "Hammering Man" #4:

He's Everywhere

Like Starbucks. Like McDonald's. He gives consumers the comfort of the familiar: New to town? Passing through? Confused and out of sorts? Stop in at McDonald's -- you know exactly what's it's like. "Oh look honey! It's 'Hammering Man!' I feel better already!"

We've had "Hammering Man" sitings in these cities:

  • Seattle
  • Los Angeles
  • Dallas (a platoon of them populate a mall)
  • Miami
  • Frankfurt
  • Basel

Contact me with any other sitings or interesting details.

Reason I like "Hammering Man" #5:

He's Popular

Don't you love to see people interacting with public art? Look! There's a tourist sitting on "Hammering Man's" foot! They just love the way it looks like it was cut out using a blowtorch. And he moves! Just like that other sculpture you saw down on the waterfront? The one of a metal dolphin swimming around and around and around? Battery-operated, so you don't have to plug it in. It's so cute. Can we buy one for our yard?

Some day we'll see rows of "Hammering Men" marching across the countryside like electrical transmission towers.

Recommended reading:

Nailing Hammering Man:
An Embarrassment of Large Mass.

Waldman, Selma.
Open Hand Publishing, Seattle. 1992.

A wonderful little book that gets all sweaty skewering "Hammering Man" -- "... this monstrositous metaprop slotted down as public art ... a thing sans authenticity in the very working act it is supposed to honor."

Try and get your hands on this chapbook if you can.

To Jeff's Messy Desk