Builders (The Family)

Accession Number

Builders (The Family)

Jacob Lawrence

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
screenprint on paper

34 in x 25 3/4 in (86.36 cm x 65.41 cm);29 15/16 in x 22 1/8 in (76.04 cm x 56.2 cm);38 3/4 in x 28 in (98.43 cm x 71.12 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis

Subject matter
Lawrence is best known for his "Migration of the Negro" series, a precursor to this work, which launched his career with its exhibition at the Downtown Gallery in NYC (1941). With this show, he became the first African American artist to be represented by a major commercial gallery. Builders (The Family) was produced while he was a Professor of Painting at the University of Washington in Seattle. This print is a later additon to his career-long series of works featuring builders, and it reflects his turn in the 1970s away from more explicit social commentary. From the mid-1940s until the 1990s, the focus of many of Lawrence's paintings and prints was builders. For him, builders served as symbols of man's aspiration— "man building", as he described it.

Physical Description
The color screenprint depicts four dark skinned figures walking past a construction site—likely a family. The man is dressed in a black suit, black shoes, yellow tie, and tan hat. The woman wears a red and white dress, yellow jacket, and red cap. The little girl stands to the left of mother, holding her hand. She wears a yellow dress, white tights, brown shoes, and a red cap. A small boy wears brown pants, tan shoes, a yellow shirt, and blue jacket. He stands to the right of the father and holds his hand.  

In the background, there are three men working at the construction site. There are two men in blue jumpsuits, one has dark skin and the other white. A third dark skinned man wears a gray jumpsuit and holds a saw. The print is signed and dated (l.r.) "Jacob Lawrence 1974" in pencil.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
color print

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
African American
children (people by age group)
construction sites
families (kinship groups)
men (male humans)
modern and contemporary art
women (female humans)

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& Author Notes

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