Jonathan Borofsky born 1942
T03913 Untitled at 2,598,228
Pen and ink on paper 230 x 305 (9 1/2 x 12 1/2)
Inscribed ‘BR[...] 1978 2598228' b.r.
Purchased from Paula Cooper Inc., New York (Grant-in-Aid) 1984
Exh: Jonathan Borofsky Zeichnungen 1960-1983, Kunstmuseum, Basel, June-July 1983, Städtisches Kunstmuseum, Bonn, Sept.-Oct. 1983, Kunstverein, Hamburg, Jan.-Feb. 1984, Kunsthalle, Bielefeld, April-May 1984, Kunstverein, Mannheim, May-July 1984, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sept.-Oct.1984 (not in cat.); State of the Art: Ideas and Images in the 1980's, ICA, Jan.-March 1987 (no number)
In an interview with Sandy Nairne (see entry for T03908) Borofsky said: ‘this looks like it was a sketch for a potential wall piece. I hardly remember this. Just by the way it’s laid out, and I was thinking of laying it [the wall piece] into a corner'. He said that he did not know who the group of figures were but commented ‘there's a fish down here at the bottom that's flat on the floor [and] a head ... I just see the heads, with all these painted hats on them'. He remarked of the head (centre left) from which light appears to shine: energy coming out of that again ... A bird over here. I think I was scribbling that ‘All is One' writing, in Persian script, up here [top right], which I quite often used to set off a wall piece at that time. I was just thinking ‘mural'. I think. And ... interesting how this head goes into the crutch of this figure, becoming the head ... making the negative space of the crutch there [see figure on far left of the drawing].
He said that the pointed hats referred to energy, and to energy receivers and transmitters. ‘Anything that reaches from the head, up into the sky, like an antenae' [see also T03908]. Asked whether the bird (top right) was related to the bird in his installation in Berlin (Zeitgeist, 1982, repr. Jonathan Borofsky, exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1984 fig.106) Borofsky said: ‘the Berlin Bird just copies that one drawing that's in this show here [see repr. Jonathan Borofsky, exh.cat., Moderna Museet, Stockholm p.61] that I'd blow up and trace. This [The Bird in T03913] is just one of many scribbled birds that I would do at different times'. He remarked that the Spiral on the right
looks like a kind of face. Two eyes and a nose and a mouth. This is not something I remember drawing too well ... and energy coming out of it ... it looks like a sketch for a mural or a wall work that I never [did] ... I wasn't doing too many wall works at that time so sometimes I would just think about them. When it came time to do the walls I usually just projected a small drawing ... also I was thinking of a show coming up, I don't know which one it would have been then, but just playing around with possibilities.
The Persian script to which Borofsky refers is visible in an installation photograph of his one-man exhibition at the Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, 1976 (repr. ibid., pl.82). This was the first occasion on which the script was incorporated. The bird in T03913 is a variation on the image of an open- beaked bird that Borofsky drew for an installation at the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California in 1977 (repr. ibid., pl.97.).
The spiral or web shape with a central face appears in simpler form in a drawing of c.1974 (no.23 in Basel exh. cat. 1983, opposite a diamond shaped drawing, also with a face at the centre). Possibly also related is no.54 in the Basel catalogue (1978) a more complex figure described by the artist on the drawing as ‘Mandala over boys on rocks' 1978.
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.106-7