Hammering Man

Hammering Man

Hammering Man is a monumental kinetic sculpture designed by Jonathan Borofsky which has been installed in various cities around the world.



Hammering Man in Seattle is 48 feet (14.6 m) tall, 30 inches (76 cm) wide and 7 inches (17 cm) deep, and weighs 26,000 pounds. He is located directly in front of the Seattle Art Museum and made out of hollow-fabricated steel, aluminum mechanized arm, electric motor, and black automotive paint. He was built in 1992 at a cost of $450,000. Original funding was provided by the Virginia Wright Fund in honor of Prentice Bloedel; Seattle City Light 1% for Art funds; the Museum Development Authority; and PONCHO (Patrons of Northwest Civic, Cultural and Charitable Organizations).

Hammering Man's arm "hammers" silently and smoothly four times per minute from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. It runs on a 3-hp electric motor set on an automatic timer. Hammering Man rests his arm each evening and every year on Labor Day.

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

On Labor Day 1993, a group of local artists attached a scaled-to-fit ball and chain to the sculpture's leg.


Since 1991 there has been a 23 metre tall hammering man by the road on the pedestrian approach to Frankfurt Trade Fair. ()

Also in the same city was an unofficial 6 ft tall copy of the Hammering Man in the Hülya-Platz (in the district Bockenheim, ) 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. The sculpture has since been replaced by a successor.

Other cities

The largest Hammering Man is in Seoul next to the Heungkuk Life Insurance building in the Gwanghwamun area of the city, and stands at 72 feet.

Besides Frankfurt, Seattle and Seoul, other Hammering Men are in New York City, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Basel, Switzerland, La Jolla, California, Gainesville, Florida and Dallas, Texas.

Artist's statement

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


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