ARTIST: Jonathan Borofsky born 1942
PART OF: 2740475
MEDIUM: Etching on paper
DIMENSIONS: Image: 70 x 38 mm
COLLECTION: Tate
ACQUISITION: Purchased 1983
REFERENCE: P07826

This page from Borofsky’s portfolio was interesting to me because of the exploration of his subconscious and dreams. Dreams and the subconscious mind is and always has been a big interest of mine. Exploring and depicting ones subconscious is precious to me and it’s something I would very much like to do, just like Borofsky has done. Although not having a diagnosed mental illness (from what I could find) he did explore his mind and had some unusual ideas mentioned below, like numbering.


“In 1969 Borofsky started writing numbers in sequence, starting with 1 and covering both sides of his sheets; he has continued this sequence at intervals ever since. In the early 1970s he found little drawings and scribbles intruding into the count and he began to make paintings of these images. He decided to identify them and all his subsequent works with the number he was on in his counting – hence the title of this portfolio is ‘2740475’. It contains seven screenprints and six etchings placed alternately (starting and finishing with a screenprint), thus creating a counterpoint of imagery from the flat silhouette of a figure wearing a hat and carrying a briefcase to the tiny etching plates on which a variety of images are drawn. Borofsky uses imagery developed from his own dreams and unconscious thoughts or fantasies and by repeated use some of his images become symbolic, as in the case of the silhouette figure used in the screenprints. It is based on a man Borofsky glimpsed in the street outside his house in New York City, and who he thought might be the man who had been putting sheets of paper through his letterbox anonymously. The sheets were covered in written names and addresses (mostly of well-known Black men) and Borofsky found in this presumably subconsciously motivated or psychotic behaviour an echo of his own written count. He has used the figure as it appears in these prints in a number of other works; here it appears first alone, then in two pairs, then in a group, then in two scattered groups and finally, alone again and upside-down. Each of these screenprints is numbered in the print, indicating the order in which they were done. The numbers are: 2739987, 2740152, 2740184, 2740225, 2740287, 2740396 and 2740474; the portfolio’s title number is therefore the very next in sequence.” (tate.org.uk)