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Glow of the city



Martin Lewis


04 Jun 1881 – 22 Feb 1962

  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    28.9 x 36.5 cm platemark; 38.8 x 47.2 cm sheet
    Signature & date

    Signed on plate to print l.r.corner "MARTIN LEWIS".
    Signed l.r. below image, pencil "Martin Lewis - imp.".

    Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales 2016
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Estate of Martin Lewis

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Martin Lewis

    Works in the collection


  • About

    This iconic image of 1920s New York juxtaposes the prosaic everyday realities of life in the metropolis against the shining monolith of a modern skyscraper, as it sends forth beams of light into the sky like a beacon. Washing, including women’s nylons and socks, is strung high above the rooftops and between tenement windows, lit from within on a hot, still night. That quintessential signifier of the changing face of modern society – the flapper – is pictured facing the view in profile from her fire-escape, her modern dress and haircut as contemporary as the electrically-lit tower upon which she gazes.

    Martin Lewis was awarded the 1930 Print Circle of Philadelphia’s Charles M Lea Prize for this print. Identifiable in the image is the art deco Chanin Building, built in 1929, the same year the print was made; the steeple belongs to St Gabriel’s church, which was demolished in 1939 to make way for the Midtown Tunnel.

    The Chanin building was publicised at the time in a brochure that emphasised its light-power 'The tower of the Chanin Building is illuminated at night by great floodlights of 30,000,000 candlepower. Within a radius of thirty-five miles it is revealed as a man-made castle in the air – a landmark by night'. (ref: Paul McCarron, 'The prints of Martin Lewis', Bronxville, New York, pg.142). The building dominated the New York skyline for only a short time; within a year the Chrysler Building was completed just across the road, overtaking the Chanin Building in its reach for the sky.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 2 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 8 publications

Other works by Martin Lewis

See all 7 works