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Topple, 2005
Fathom, 2005
Jackpot, 2006
Timber, 2005
Stress, 2004
Noted , 2004
Stacked , 2004
Teeter, 2004
Epilogue, 2009
Knockout, 2006
Explorer, 2006
Viewfinder, 2006
Distraction, 2006
Maneater, 2006
Sugar, 2009
Uncovered, 2006
Arouse, 2009
Finale, 2009
Floored, 2009
Hindsight, 2006
Loaded , 2006
Tangle, 2008
Draw, 2005
Breathtaking, 2006

Press Release

Pulp Fiction: Photographs by Thomas Allen

I cut, crimp, crease and convert the covers of vintage paperbacks into three-dimensional tableau and photograph them–an idea that feeds my penchant for pop-up books and other things 3D. The subjects are bit players who, for a brief time, found fame printed on the glossy surfaces of dime novels. My mitts and an X-acto knife work together to persuade skirts and gumshoes to return to the stage for one final performance in a slightly different production. This re-imagined look at a product of pop culture—whose sales relied more on seductive, eye-popping visuals than literary content—proves once-and-for-all that you can judge a book by its cover!   - Thomas Allen


Joseph Bellows Gallery is pleased to present an online exhibition of Thomas Allen's photographs.  With the photographs, Allen refashions the visual and narrative structure of the pulp novel, meticulously reworking their covers into a newly formed dialogue and playful storyline.  His dramatic lit still-life arrangements present a varying array of tableaus within a seductive and luminous color palate.

Allen earned a BFA from Wayne State University (Detroit) and an MFA from the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis). His work has been exhibited and published nationally and internationally and is within the permanent collections include the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Milwaukee Art Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Target Corporation, Fidelity Investments, Microsoft, the Progressive Corporation and Twitter.

Serving as both educator and visiting artist, Allen has lectured extensively about his work and taught a variety of photography courses and workshops across the country.  In 2007, Aperture published  UNCOVERED: Photographs by Thomas Allen  with a foreword written by renowned book cover designer Chip Kidd. 

Editorial Reviews

"This enchanting book presents amusing tableaux of fictional characters, each coming to life with a quiet yet determined energy... These filmic scenes, set up and recorded with a 4 x 5 camera, have a quality of child-like make-believe, yet with a sophistication that enables the tales to take on a life beyond the page... With its witty narratives, it really is a delightful object that you want to return to again and again." -- Debra Klomp Ching -- Photo District News

"Allen's work is inspired by a love of pop-up books; he photographs these engaging tableaux in shallow focus -- imbuing his full color prints with the dreamy effect of a stereoscopic toy -- and expands the physical format of the paperback book into an otherwordly fantasy." --Flak Photo

"Looked at individually, each image is notable as much for its craft as for its narrative; as a collection they seem an allegory of a pop-history with gravity we don't witness enough today." -- Jay Gardner --Picture Magazine

"Old-school film noir, pulp fiction, and pop-up books coalesce beautifully in tableaux in photographer Thomas Allen's first monograph, Uncovered." -- Jared Paul Stern --BlackBook

"Vampish vixens, drunken sailors, bust-ups and shoot-outs are some of the entertaining images that can be found in this photographic homage to the golden age of pulp fiction, film noir and cult westerns. Thomas Allen cuts away and twists old paperbacks into these subverted narratives, bursting out of pages that almost slide off the edge of the mantelpiece." --The Bookseller