James E ALLEN, The builders Enlarge 1 /1


United States of America 1894 – 1964


The builders (1932) Place made: New York, New York, United States of America
Materials & Technique: prints, intaglio etching Support: light-weight cream antique laid paper torn from a book.
Edition: edition of 100
Publisher: Herald Tribune Magazine
Place Published: New York
Date Published: 1932

Edition Notes: published as the cover for the Herald Tribune magazine on the 3/9/1933 and for the cover of the Sunday Review Brooklyn Eagle 25/3/1934.
Primary Insc: signed l.r, in pencil below platemark: 'James E. Allen'/not dated.
Tertiary Insc: verso: inscribed l.r, in pencil " 1986.1341".
Dimensions: plate-mark 25.1 h x 30.2 w cm sheet 35.6 h x 42.6 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1986
Accession No: NGA 86.1341

The social-realist tradition is a very significant part of American art of the first half of the 20th century. While photography became the dominant means of social documentation during this period, there were many artists who worked off this photographic tradition to produce powerful print works in their own right.  James Allen’s The builders 1932, either directly borrows from, or echoes, Lewis Hines’ photographs of the construction of the Empire State Building.  It is consciously photo-documentary in terms of its frozen action and the portrayal of social types.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra