Molecule Man

by Jonathan Borofsky, 1991.

255 E. Temple St.

Aerial view, 2006:

The statement by the artist (below) 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. 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.”

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