Someone once described NorthPark Center to me as the best museum in Dallas, and though the local attraction is, for all intents and purposes, a mall, the artistic distinction is well earned. Since Raymond and Patsy Nasher opened the shopping center in the 1960s (before going on to create the Nasher Sculpture Center), NorthPark has been filled with high-caliber works by renowned artists like Andy Warhol, KAWS, Joel Shapiro, Frank Stella, Beverly Pepper, and more. So seamless is the blend of art and commerce at NorthPark, you might not even notice you’re passing an internationally acclaimed work on your way to the Apple Store.
One installation that’s nearly impossible to miss, however, is suddenly being, well, missed. Jonathan Borofsky’s towering Five Hammering Men, seemingly forever stationed in NorthPark’s South Court, are currently taking a well-deserved rest.
“They finally finished those things they were hammering,” posted one user on the r/Dallas subreddit, where an image was posted of the “men” carefully being taken down. They were joking, of course, but the thread, which quickly accumulated over 150 comments, was filled with longtime Dallasites reflecting on their memories with the beloved Hammering Men.
Borofsky’s work has found a home in NorthPark Center since the 1980s, but world travelers may have caught larger versions of the Hammering Men silhouettes — envisioned as symbols for the workers in all of us — in Frankfurt, Germany or Seoul, South Korea. Their considerable height (Dallas is actually home to the shortest “men”) paired with the gentle whirring of their motorized hammering is easily identifiable.
On NorthPark Center’s website, Raymond Nasher is quoted admiring Borofsky. “I particularly like the way he can work on a monumental scale and still make objects with wit, spirit, and meaning,” the Dallas art collector said.
When emailed for comment, the NorthPark team replied, “NorthPark Center’s Five Hammering Men (1982) by Jonathan Borofsky was unfortunately damaged and is currently in the process of being fully repaired. This piece is a beloved part of the collection of artworks on view at NorthPark Center, where we are committed to providing a world-class art experience to our visitors.” In the meantime, however, Borofsky’s 40-foot tall painted steel Hammering Man (1984 -1985) is still standing strong outside of Neiman Marcus (near Boedeker Street).
Hopefully, we’ll see our hard-working men standing tall in South Court once again, but if not, the Nashers will surely have something just as monumental in store. Rest easy, guys.