Saul Steinberg (b. 1914, Râmnicul Sarat, Romania; d. 1999, New York) studied philosophy and letters at the University in Bucharest before moving to Italy in 1933 to enroll as an architecture student at the Politecnico in Milan. Although he received his degree in 1940, the anti-Jewish racial laws in Fascist Italy proscribed him from practicing his profession. He fled Italy in 1941, waited a year in Santo Domingo for a US visa, and finally arrived in New York in 1942. Commissioned as an ensign in the US Navy, he spent World War II in China, North Africa, and Italy. He settled in New York after the war, but became an inveterate traveler. His journeys through the United States, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and India gave him a broad and acute perspective on the culture and mores of 20th-century life. Steinberg’s art became an exploration of social and political systems, language, and art itself.
Text courtesy Pace Gallery.
A few months ago, I reviewed Eyes Wide Open: Saul Steinberg and Philip Guston at Senior & Shopmaker Gallery, which got me thinking about Steinberg, whose work needs to be reconsidered. Steinberg's
The Romanian-American cartoonist Saul Steinberg represented a distinctly mid 20th-century phenomenon, one so familiar we tend to forget how bizarre it is. He was born in 1914 to second- and third-gene