1988

A year of more deaths:  Bernard Rudofsky (March 11) and Tino Nivola (May 3), two of his oldest friends in the US; his New Yorker  friend and colleague Charles Addams (September 29). He delivers a eulogy at the Addams memorial in November.  “His work was made of intelligent drawing, simple and clear, well-organized to convey the main idea. But I was more interested on reading the secondary ideas that were creeping always in Charlie’s drawings, [where] even the most familiar things became alarming.”

Also in the fall, death of Gertrude Einstein, who had handled the US business of his agent, Cesar Civita, in the 1940s and with whom he had remained in touch.

In April, he writes to Aldo Buzzi that he has begun making photocopied enlargements, up to a meter wide, from his collection of old gravure postcards of Russia and Europe.  He studies the small, little-seen details and later reports: “Best are the pedestrian dogs, those left to their own devices, without masters, dogs heading who knows where with energy and precision, on business of their own.”  He starts making drawings of dogs and considers turning them into a book.  Some of the drawings are later published in the literary journal Grand Street, accompanied by the postcard blowups on which they were modeled.

Rudy, 1988. Crayon, pastel, and oil stick on paper, 18 x 24 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Rudy, 1988. Crayon, pastel, and oil stick on paper, 18 x 24 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.

Three spreads from “33 Postcards & 9 Dogs,” Grand Street, no. 36 (1990). Three spreads from “33 Postcards & 9 Dogs,” Grand Street, no. 36 (1990).

Three spreads from “33 Postcards & 9 Dogs,” Grand Street, no. 36 (1990).
Three spreads from “33 Postcards & 9 Dogs,” Grand Street, no. 36 (1990).

From this point on, as he works and travels less, his letters to Buzzi grow in frequency.  As many are written over the next eleven years as were written in the previous forty.  “Italian has become my literary style, that is, my method for thinking in words, to be used in the letters I send you frequently and regularly. Sometimes the very paucity of my vocabulary forces a certain ingenuity on me.”

June 16–October 2, “Steinberg: 4. Internationale Triennale der Zeichnung,” Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Nuremberg—a retrospective exhibition of nearly 90 drawings and reliefs, which he privately described as “a kind of personal payback for 1939.”

Summer, solo exhibition, Galerie Adrien Maeght, Paris; travels the following February–March to the Galerie Maeght, Barcelona.

July 1, receives honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art, London.


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