"Transcending the borders between picture and word."

One-man exhibitions:

Wakefield Gallery, New York
Young Books, Inc., New York
Institute of Design, Chicago

vouw in de badkuip 1949
“Woman in Tub” (1949)

Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence

Betty Parsons Gallery, New York
Galleria l'Obelisco, Rome


Galeria de Arte, Sao Paulo
Museu de Arte, Sao Paulo
Gump's Gallery, San Francisco
Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York
Kunsthalle, Wuppertal-Barmen, West Germany
Leopold-Hoesch-Museum, Düren, West Germany
Galeria l'Obelisco, Rome
Betty Parsons gallery, New York
Frank Perls Gallery, Beverly Hills, California



Arts Club of Chicago
Galerie Blanche, Stockholm
Galerie Maeght, Paris
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

Corcoran Gallery of Art,
Washington, D.C.

Dallas Museum of Fine Arts
Museum am Ostwall,
Dortmund, West Germany

Frankfurter Kunstkabinett,

Kestner-Gesellchaft, Hannover
Kunstmuseum, Basel
Santa Barbara Museum,
Santa Barbara, California

Harvard School of Design,
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Allan Frumkin Gallery,
Institute of Contemporary Arts,

Musée d'Art Moderne, Brussels

Six Masks (detail),
1959-65, Pencil,
crayon, ink, rubber
stamps, and colored
pencil on cut brown
paper bags.

The Art Gallery,
University of California,
Santa Barbara


Davison Art Center,
Wesleyan University,
Middletown, Connecticut

The Paris Rewiew,
silkscreen, 1965

Sidney Janis Gallery, New York
Galerie Maeght, Paris
Betty Parsons Gallery, New York
Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne

Musée d'Art Moderne, Brussels
B.C. Holland Gallery, Chicago

Museum Boymans-van Beuningen,

Obelisk Gallery, Boston
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels

Saul Steinberg is a frontiersman of genres, an artist who cannot be confined to a category. He is a writer of pictures, an architect of speechand sounds, a draftsman of philosophical reflections. His line of a master penman and calligrapher, aesthetically delectable in itself, is also the line of an illusionist formulating riddles and jokes about appearances. In addition, it is "a line" in the sense of organized gab.





Saul Steinberg
1914 - 1999


switch met stoel eames
Saul Steinberg, Râmnicu Sărat, june 15, 1914 - New York City, may 12, 1999

Because he is attracted to pen and ink and pencils, and because of the complex intellectual nature of his products, one may think of Steinberg as a of kind writer, though there is only one of his kind. He has worked out exchanges betwen the verbal and the visual, including puns on multiple plans of verbal and visual meaning, that have caused him to be compared to James Joyce. His art-monologues bring into being pictures that are words, and words that have the solidity of things, and that suffer the misfortunes of living creatures, as when HELP! is bitten in half by a crocodile ...
(The vulnerable part of the man in danger is the cry for help, wich is the part by wich the crocodile holds him and wich has the function of an appetizer. What do I want to say? That he who cries his terror becomes the victim of his statement.)
... and in WHO DID IT? the WHO causes the DID to crush the I of the IT.
(It's obvious that WHO did it. And exactly the H of WHO shaped so as to push the D of DID, another word who obviously did it by its nature of doingandby the inclination of the two D's to roll and crush IT; more exactly, the I of IT. And who asks the question? None other than the Question Mark itself, facing and judging the fact. The three men are around for the sake of scale and animism.)

21 maskers switch
From the Mask Series with Saul Steinberg, 1959 - 1962. Photographed by Inge Morath.

Steinberg's compositions cross the borders between art and caricature, illustration, children's art, art brut, satire, while conveying reminiscences of styles from Greek and Oriental to Cubist and Constructivist. His work is notably of the present day, yet it has an aura of the old-fashioned. As a cartoonist, Steinberg tantalizes those who wish to separate high art from the mass media. Granted that he is witty, formally ingenious, a great calligrapher, "Is he an artist?" Steinberg is aware that he is a borderline case, and seems content with the ambiquity of his position. "I don't quite belong in the art, cartoon or magazine world," he has reflected, "so the art world doesn't quite know how to place me."

switch 4
At the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum

To display Steinberg's drawings and paintings in an art museum is, however , to define them as art. Since Marcel Duchamp showed a bicycle wheel in an art gallery more than fifty years ago, objects have been identified by the company they keep. By this rule, the present retrospective closes the debate about the works contained in it - but it will not determine the nature of a Steinberg reproduced in a magazine next week. Art today, cartoon tomorrow. More important, however, than the obsolescent issue of "Is it art?" is the fact that all of Steinberg's creations form a single continuous and developing whole; that they are coherent with one another through the unique cast of this artist's thinking, skill and sensibility. It is this ultimate mental/manual signature that has brought Steinberg recognition as a master with a wider public throughout the world than any other artist now alive.


"The tradition of the artist is to become someone else."
Steinberg emerged among the American artists who in the immediate postwar years revolutionized painting and sculpture by introducing it a new subject matter: the mystery of individual identity."The self, terrible and constant, is for me the subject matter of painting," wrote Barnett Newman. Self or not-self (impersonality) has been the issue on wich art movements in the United States have risen and foundered in the decades since the war. In their mythic researches, Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Philip Guston, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko each sought a unique idiom in wich to unveil a being underlying consciousness.



Three Liberties, 1949–51
Ink and watercolor on paper
14x23 inches (35.6x58.4 cm)

Echtpaar met hond.
Utopia, 1974

Like them, Steinberg conceived art as autobiography. But autobiography of whom? The hidden metaphysical self? Man today? The immigrant? The stranger? In the midtwentieth century the artist is obliged to invent the self who will paint his pictures - and who may constitute their subject matter. Steinberg's approach to the self has been the opposite of the Expressionists'. It has also distinguished itself from that of the "impersonalists," such as Ad Reinhardt, Frank Stella, Donald Judd, and othet minimalists. Instead of seeking "contact" (Pollock's term) with the singular, unattainable self, Steinberg conceived the theater of Abstract Man, Mr. Anybody (and his wife), in their countless poses, self-disguises and self-creations. Each of the women in Bingo in Venice, California, for example, is an invention produced by collaboration between herself and the artist's pen.

landschap switch handen
Egyptian Landscape, 1965

A virtuoso of exchanges of identity, Steinberg is naturally inclined toward comedy. His concept of the comic relates both to the fantasies of human beings and to their rigidities. Comedy also arises out of his consciousness of self-invention. Steinberg's art is a parade of fictitious personages, geometric shapes, items of household equipment, personified furniture, each staged in a fiction of what it is - or in a dream of being something else. His little man, anonymous citizen, is burdened with projectsand conditions, from sneaking up on a question mark with a butterfly net to dreaming of a woman who is dreaming of him. A roughly drawn, freehand cube has a dream of glory in wich it is a perfected cube with ruled edges and neatly lettered corners. An E built of massive blocks fancies itself as an elegant French É. In Steinberg's view everything that exists is an artist and is engaged in refinig its appearance - a curious version of Darwinism. "The main thing to find out," he declared to an interviewer, "is what sort of technique the crocodile employs to show itself. "There is also a grim side to this universal self-transformation. Becoming someone else is a crises situation.


Oct. 18, 1969

Steinberg's drawings
are full of figures on the edges of precipices, statues falling from their pedestals, solitary individuals staring into voids. In contrast to to the impenetrable but suggestive signs evoked by Pollock and De Kooning from the spontaneous action of the brush, Steinberg's figurative language, equally mysterious, derives from the gallery of images firmly fixed in the public mind.

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