Chrysler Building (Chrysler Building in Construction)



Howard Cook (1901-1980), Chrysler Building (Chrysler Building in Construction) – 1930, Wood Engraving.

Duffy 122. Edition 75, only 50 printed. 1931, signed in pencil.

Image size 10 1/16 x 6 11/16 inches (256 x 170 mm); sheet size 11 7/8 x 9 inches (302 x 229 mm).

A superb, black impression, on thin cream wove Japan paper, in excellent condition.

By the early 1930s, Cook’s prints of New York, especially its skyscrapers and bridges, were widely known and often reproduced in such magazines as Harpers and The Atlantic Monthly. The first solo exhibition of his prints was held in 1929 at the Weyhe Gallery in New York.

While Cook’s lithographs of New York were made in collaboration with the printer George Miller, he insisted on printing his woodcuts and etchings himself. Cook lived in New Mexico for much of his life, and only took up residence in New York for varying periods between 1930 and 1938; nonetheless, he remains most renowned for the prints he produced of what he described as “the endearing serrated skyline of the most exciting modern city in the world”.

Here Cook shows the Chrysler Building before the addition of its famous art deco “crown.” For a brief period after it was finished and before the completion of the Empire State Building in 1931, it was the tallest building in the world. Cook’s perspective of the illuminated building, seen from below, enhances a sense of its looming monumentality; this is further reinforced by the dark geometric forms of the smaller surrounding buildings.