Detail View

The Builders (The Family)
Date: 1974
Culture: African-American
Dimensions: image: 30 in. x 22 1/8 in. (76.2 x 56.2 cm) sheet: 34 x 25 3/4 in. (86.4 x 65.4 cm) mat: 40 x 30 in. (101.6 x 76.2 cm)
Medium: color screenprint on wove paper
Credit Line: Permanent Collection Fund
Label Text: Jacob Lawrence’s cunning use of scale and color draws the viewer into this eye-catching scene. The family fills the foreground, and Lawrence frames them between the oblique lines of the red ladder and the wooden planks. The shallow space created by the builders' wall further enhances the family’s importance. The muted background colors focus our eyes on the man's black suit and yellow tie, the red hats of the mother and daughter, and the builders' blue coveralls. The overall tone of the work is positive and hopeful. Fascinated with tools (he possessed his own fine collection of them), Lawrence saw them as extensions of one's hands and symbols of hope for a better life. "I like the symbolism [of the builder]," he once said. "I think of it as man's aspiration, as a constructive tool—man building."
Object Number: 2007.6
Currently on view