Saul Steinberg wasborn in RâmnicuSărat, Buzau,Romania. He studiedphilosophy for a yearat the University ofBucharest, then laterenrolled at thePolitecnico di Milano,studying architectureand graduating in1940.
Saul Steinberg wearing one of his masks, c. 1961. Photo by Inge Morath.
Saul Steinberg . In View of the World from 9th Avenue, his famous 1976 New Yorker cover, a map delineates not real space but the mental geography of Manhattanites.
In other Steinbergian transitions, fingerprints become mug shots or landscapes;
Words, numbers, and punctuation marks come to life as messengers of doubt, fear, or exuberance;
Sheet music lines glide into violin strings,record grooves, the grain of a wood table, and Through such shifts of meaning from one passage the smile of a cat. to the next, Steinbergs line comments on its own transformative nature. In a deceptively simple Ink on music paper, 14 1/4 x 20 1/8". 1948 drawing, an artist (Steinberg himself) traces a large spiral. But as the spiral moves downward, it metamorphoses into a left foot, then a right foot, then the profile of a body, until finally reaching the hand holding the pen that draws the line.
Main Street--Small Town, section of The Americans mural,American Pavilion, Brussels Worlds Fair, 1958.
Cities, 1974.Originally published in The New Yorker, July 22, 1974.
Paris is reduced to the flowery curves of an Art Nouveau Métro station and triangular-plan buildings that markout wishfully broadened and empty vistas. With no cars in sight and pedestrians confined to the sidewalks,Steinberg’s Paris emerges as an idealized city seen through its urban architectural styles. Style and content are coincident in Las Vegas, crayoned in a casino’s garish hues and frenetic barrage offorms. The gambling woman, nearly all head and pocketbook, hits the jackpot at a slot machine. Her prize,however, is not money or chips but geometric shapes, while the symbols on the machine are as juvenile as thedream of instant riches.Paris Las Vegas