Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Artist Profile: Jonathan Borofsky

Jonathan Borofsky was born in 1942, in Boston, MA. He went to school at Carnegie Mellon University, was awarded a B.F.A. in 1964, and then studied at the Ecole de Fontainebleau, France, 1964. He then attended Yale School of Art and Architecture, and was awarded an M.F.A., in 1966. Being drawn to art since childhood, he can look back to a painting by French post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin titled "Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?" Borofsky says, "I remember being very affected by that title. It seemed so philosophical and psychological. I started thinking: This is what art can do. It can ask questions or it can answer them.” Since then he has made many oversized sculptures, which have been placed around the world, from America to Germany. His sculptures represent mankind, in various ways and to various degrees. He enjoys depicting mankind as we are, showing us to be the same, although different colors and backgrounds.
One of the first pieces I came to see by Borofsky was his work entitled “Walking to the Sky.” This sculpture is 100 feet tall and made of stainless steel. It was installed in New York in 2004. Because of the magnitude and depiction, many have believed that it was a monument to the people who died in the Twin Towers in 2001. This is not technically true, Borofsky says, “These are human beings around the world; they represent all kinds of humanity. They are not New Yorkers, not Americans. This piece can stand anywhere—Africa, India, Hawaii.”
A couple of other interesting pieces of Borofsky’s are his walking men. They are both titled “Walking Man,” yet while being similar, they are still unique. The first of these was set in Munich in 1995. However, it was made in pieces in California and then transported. It is made of an inner steel frame and outer fiberglass shell. It is 17 meters tall. Being so incredibly tall, a steel staircase was built inside the upper portion to allow the workers to assemble the last bits. A couple interesting notes: Firstly, that Borofsky first made a small 1-2 feet sculpture and then had the larger and finished copy completed. And secondly, that before finishing the final construction, a time capsule, with written statements from the workers both in California and Munich, was placed inside the sculpture. The second “Walking Man” is set in Germany. It was completed in 2005, is also made of stainless steel, and is 9.1 meters tall.
The most interesting thing about Borofsky, to me, is that he did not set out to become an artist and then was magically a well-known artist, with many installations, immediately. No, he had to sit down, write things out, work things out. In fact, he said that after graduating from Yale, he was alone in his studio for much of the next eleven years, simply thinking and drawing. To this end, he says he became “more cerebral than I had ever been before." At this point in his life, he became obsessed with numbers, which were incorporated more in his drawings than his sculptures, but did induce him to create this self-portrait. To become an artist, as is seen by Borofsky now well-known legacy, one must think things through. No one is immediately renown: everyone must work to become famous.
It is also important to note that, to date, Borofsky “has not had a solo exhibition in a museum or gallery since 1991.” And has, instead, been “exclusively devoted to large-scale outdoor public commissions.”



  1. The sculpture in the first photo "walking to the sky" is actually located in Dallas now at the Nasher Sculpture Center. That's right across the street from the Dallas Museum of Art in downtown.

  2. Sorry, i forgot to mention that it was moved.

  3. Wish we could go check out the Nasher Sculpture Center and the Museum of Art. ;D