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Sculpture Of The Week: Berlin’s Molecule Man

Jonathan Borofsky, Molecule Man, 1999, Photo by Neil Mercer, source: Wikimedia Commons


Sculpture Of The Week: Berlin’s Molecule Man

Jonathan Borofsky’s monumental aluminum sculpture, Molecule Man, towers the Berlin skyline at 30 meters (100 feet). Standing in a region once divided by the Berlin Wall, the work embodies themes of unity, connection and modernity.

Molecule Man

Jonathan Borofsky, Molecule Man, 1999, Berlin, Germany, source: Wikimedia Commons

The German insurance company, Allianz, commissioned sculpture, which was to be located near their offices. Installed in 1999, the position was carefully and deliberately chosen. Molecule Man was strategically placed in the middle of the river Spree at the intersection of three districts (Treptow, Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain). The Spree once marked the division between East and West Berlin.

Jonathan Borofsky is an American artist. Much of his public work involves the depiction of the human form.

Molecule Man consists of three men with arms melding into one another. This is a vivid image of merging. The figures are almost embracing. The men are fully engaged in their motion. The bodies are depicted in flat 2D profile. The monumental figures are covered in holes to depict what Borofsky saw as “molecules of human beings coming together to create an existence”. Despite the immense size of the sculpture, there is a lightness and uplifting quality provided by these numerous holes scattered through the bodies. The men appear to walk easily on top of the waters. The artist plays with the concept that our solid physical bodies are composed of molecules. All these minuscule pieces creating our existence.

Molecule Man

Jonathan Borofsky, Molecule Man, 1999, Berlin, Germany, source: Nicholas Olesen Photography

There are two other Molecule Man sculptures in the United States – one in California and another in Iowa. All the cities sought public art that exhibits the modern concepts of globalization, unifying cultures and bringing people together. Exposing the fragility and similarities we share as well.

Borofsky sees that in a “world governed by probability”, Molecule Man gives the sense of “finding wholeness and unity within the world”. Berlin is a city once separated by a wall in this area. This sculpture is a poignant example of the desire to amend the disunion and segregation.

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Giotto’s weeping angels started my love affair with art history.
Seattle, WA based.


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