An Architect-on-Paper

Steinberg’s 1940 diploma from the Politecnico in Milan reads “Dottore in Architettura.” Though first racial politics and then personal disinclination kept him from practicing his profession, he remained an architect-on-paper. His forays into two-dimensional building became a means to visualize and critique contemporaneous architecture and its function in the postwar world.

Within a few months of his arrival in the US, Steinberg began to travel throughout his adopted country. The eye of the immigrant architect saw what no one had yet appreciated. Long before Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown’s now-famous study, Learning from Las Vegas (1972), and before Robert Frank’s photographic portraits of unheralded citizens in The Americans (1958), Steinberg had been filling hundreds of sheets with paeans to vernacular signage, small-town architecture, and local types.70

Original drawing for the portfolio “The Coast,” <em>The New Yorker</em>, January 27, 1951. <em>Exterminator No. 9</em>, 1950, ink on paper, 14 ½ x 11 ½ in. Saul Steinberg Papers, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
Original drawing for the portfolio “The Coast,” The New Yorker, January 27, 1951. Exterminator No. 9, 1950, ink on paper, 14 ½ x 11 ½ in. Saul Steinberg Papers, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
<em>Untitled</em>, 1951-52. Ink and pencil on paper, 114 ½ x 19 3/8 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Untitled, 1951-52. Ink and pencil on paper, 114 ½ x 19 3/8 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Untitled</em>, 1954. Ink on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Untitled, 1954. Ink on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Untitled [Florida Types]</em>, 1952. Ink and collage on paper, 30 x 24 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Untitled [Florida Types], 1952. Ink and collage on paper, 30 x 24 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Gary, Indiana I</em>, 1953. Ink, crayon, and pencil on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Gary, Indiana I, 1953. Ink, crayon, and pencil on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>The South</em>, 1955. Ink, pencil, colored pencil, and watercolor on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
The South, 1955. Ink, pencil, colored pencil, and watercolor on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Drawing in <em>The New Yorker</em>, December 14, 1957.
Drawing in The New Yorker, December 14, 1957.
“Saul Steinberg Stops for the Night.” <em>Fortune</em>, June 1959.
“Saul Steinberg Stops for the Night.” Fortune, June 1959.

Other artists, he said to an interviewer,

“were painting magnificent landscapes, but fantastic things like ghost towns and American architecture—highways and diners and motels and traffic—they didn’t see. They didn’t think it was dignified. When I came here I realized the American landscape was untouched….I drew those things that hadn’t been drawn before—American women, baseball games, small towns, motels and diners—but I drew them with the same carefulness that more “noble” artists use for a nude or a still life or an apple.”71

In this endeavor, Steinberg may have found a model in the photographs of his good friend Walker Evans, who “had shown that the American road…with its factory barracks, gas stations, union halls, and portrait studios, presented the moving self-portrait of an ignored and enduring past. Adapting the lesson to drawing gave Steinberg his start on the micro-documentary practice with which he would reinvigorate his eye and hand repeatedly in the decades ahead”72—as he did in the 1986-87 drawings of the Big Duck building in Flanders, Long Island.

Cover of <em>The New Yorker</em>, May 11, 1987.
Cover of The New Yorker, May 11, 1987.
<em>The Riverhead Duck</em>, 1986. Colored pencil, crayon, ink, pencil, and watercolor on paper, 20 x 15 in. Private collection.
The Riverhead Duck, 1986. Colored pencil, crayon, ink, pencil, and watercolor on paper, 20 x 15 in. Private collection.

The architect-on-paper had a recurring role as critic; indeed, Steinberg has been called a “critic without words.”73 He looked at buildings and their interaction with public spaces and understood the ill effects of postwar urbanization and highway expansion on the American scene. Of a group of drawings that included Motels and Highway and an untitled city view, the British poet Stephen Spender said, “we are all hypnotized by this America because it is the image of what is happening to our civilization.”

<em>Motels and Highway</em>, 1959. Ink and crayon on paper, 22 x 30 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Motels and Highway, 1959. Ink and crayon on paper, 22 x 30 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Untitled</em>, 1958. Ink on paper, 14 ½ x 22 7/8 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Untitled, 1958. Ink on paper, 14 ½ x 22 7/8 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.

In Motels and Highway, insect-cars jam a superhighway walled off by motel courts from a wilderness of cactus and palm trees, the whole presided over by one of Steinberg’s recurrent crocodiles, signaling danger. To Spender, such drawings recorded a nation with “no debts to the past and no need to fit its bursting ubiquitous forms into the surrounding scenery, which it tramples down to suit its purposes.”74 From the later 1940s well into the 1980s, Steinberg’s drawing tools logged an America in the throes of modernization, sometimes treating architecture and vehicles as intrusions on a more human-scaled earlier landscape.

Drawing for Steinberg’s mural of Detroit, 1949. Ink over pencil on paper, 14 5/8 x 23 1/8 in. The Detroit Institute of Arts; Gift of the J.L. Hudson Company.
Drawing for Steinberg’s mural of Detroit, 1949. Ink over pencil on paper, 14 5/8 x 23 1/8 in. The Detroit Institute of Arts; Gift of the J.L. Hudson Company.
<em>Untitled</em>, 1949-54. Ink and pencil on paper, 14 ½ x 23 ¼ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Untitled, 1949-54. Ink and pencil on paper, 14 ½ x 23 ¼ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Highway</em>, 1951. Ink, crayon, and pencil on paper, 23 x 29 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Highway, 1951. Ink, crayon, and pencil on paper, 23 x 29 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Highway Traffic</em>, 1953. Ink, watercolor, and pencil on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Highway Traffic, 1953. Ink, watercolor, and pencil on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>The City</em>, 1954. Ink, watercolor, crayon, and pencil on paper, 22 ½ x 28 ½ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
The City, 1954. Ink, watercolor, crayon, and pencil on paper, 22 ½ x 28 ½ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Small Town with Small Town Skyscraper</em>, 1958. Drawing for background of <em>The Road—South and West</em>, from <em>The Americans</em>. Ink on paper, 30 x 22 in. Centre Pompidou, Paris; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Small Town with Small Town Skyscraper, 1958. Drawing for background of The Road—South and West, from The Americans. Ink on paper, 30 x 22 in. Centre Pompidou, Paris; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Railroad Crossing</em>, 1958. Watercolor, pastel, ink, and pencil on paper, 14 ½ x 22 ¾ in. Private collection.
Railroad Crossing, 1958. Watercolor, pastel, ink, and pencil on paper, 14 ½ x 22 ¾ in. Private collection.
<em>Untitled</em>, 1958. Ink on paper, 14 ½ x 22 7/8 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Untitled, 1958. Ink on paper, 14 ½ x 22 7/8 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for the portfolio “City Dogs,” <em>The New Yorker</em>, September 19, 1977. Crayon, ink, pencil, and watercolor on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. Private collection.
Original drawing for the portfolio “City Dogs,” The New Yorker, September 19, 1977. Crayon, ink, pencil, and watercolor on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. Private collection.

At other times he sent a more subtle message. In the 1959 drawing Aspera (Latin for “rough” or “difficult”), tiny, near-identical figures aimlessly seek their near-identical houses in a spooky view of the new American suburbs.

<em>Aspera</em>, 1959. Ink on board, 20 x 30 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Aspera, 1959. Ink on board, 20 x 30 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.

More than twenty years later, the architecture has become emblematic, almost surreal.

<em>Western Projects</em>, 1981. Watercolor, colored pencil, pencil, rubber stamps, collage, ink, and embossed foil on paper, 30 x 20 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Western Projects, 1981. Watercolor, colored pencil, pencil, rubber stamps, collage, ink, and embossed foil on paper, 30 x 20 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Architect’s Wife</em>, 1981. Watercolor, colored pencil, and collage on paper, 22 ¼ x 30 ¼ in. Private collection.
Architect’s Wife, 1981. Watercolor, colored pencil, and collage on paper, 22 ¼ x 30 ¼ in. Private collection.
<em>Bauhaus Street</em>, 1982. Crayon and pencil on paper, 15 ¼ x 24 ¼ in. Private collection.
Bauhaus Street, 1982. Crayon and pencil on paper, 15 ¼ x 24 ¼ in. Private collection.

In the late 1940s, Steinberg had turned to graph paper as a means of lampooning the eruption of curtain-wall architecture on the postwar cityscape.

<em>Untitled</em>, 1950. Ink and graph paper, 12 x 9 in. Private collection.
Untitled, 1950. Ink and graph paper, 12 x 9 in. Private collection.
<em>Graph Paper Architecture</em>, 1954. Ink and collage on paper, 14 ½ x 11 ½ in. Collection of Leon and Michaela Constantiner, New York.
Graph Paper Architecture, 1954. Ink and collage on paper, 14 ½ x 11 ½ in. Collection of Leon and Michaela Constantiner, New York.
<em>Park Avenue Collage</em>, 1954. Ink and sheet music and graph papers, 22 7/8 x 14 3/8 in. Centre Pompidou, Paris; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Park Avenue Collage, 1954. Ink and sheet music and graph papers, 22 7/8 x 14 3/8 in. Centre Pompidou, Paris; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.

And his wordless criticism went on to illuminate later drawings and rubber stamp compositions.

Original drawing for “The Mayor, Part I,” <em>The New Yorker</em>, May 3, 1969. <em>NYC</em>, 1969. Ink, pencil, crayon, and rubber stamp on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. Centre Pompidou, Paris; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for “The Mayor, Part I,” The New Yorker, May 3, 1969. NYC, 1969. Ink, pencil, crayon, and rubber stamp on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. Centre Pompidou, Paris; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for <em>The New Yorker</em>, August 21, 1965. <em>Project</em>, 1965. Ink on paper, 14 ½ x 11 ½ in. Saul Steinberg Papers, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
Original drawing for The New Yorker, August 21, 1965. Project, 1965. Ink on paper, 14 ½ x 11 ½ in. Saul Steinberg Papers, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Architecture: Housing,” <em>The New Yorker</em>, April 4, 1983. <em>Untitled</em>, 1982. Marker, colored pencil, crayon, and pencil on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Architecture: Housing,” The New Yorker, April 4, 1983. Untitled, 1982. Marker, colored pencil, crayon, and pencil on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.

Even when depicting an actual building, his critical eye was unrestrained. Citibank represents a branch of the bank on Lower Broadway, constructed in 1927 in the Art Moderne style.

Original drawing for the portfolio “Bank,” <em>The New Yorker</em>, May 19, 1986. <em>Untitled (Citibank)</em>, 1986. Pencil, colored pencil, and crayon on paper 14 ½ x 23 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Bank,” The New Yorker, May 19, 1986. Untitled (Citibank), 1986. Pencil, colored pencil, and crayon on paper 14 ½ x 23 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.

But Steinberg’s drawing veers into sly mockery. Seen from below in acute one-point perspective, like typical publicity photographs of corporate architecture, the building should be as imposing as an ancient temple. Steinberg ridicules such pretensions by filling the sky with a monster cloud about to slam into the structure and the ground with cartoonish walkers, tiny heads and all legs, seen in the same exaggerated perspective.

What Steinberg called “Milanese Bauhaus” was for him redolent of the Fascist government that had made his last years in Italy hellish for a foreign Jew.75

<em>Milanese II</em>, 1973. Rubber stamps, pencil, and colored pencil on paper, 23 x 29 in. Centre Pompidou, Paris; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Milanese II, 1973. Rubber stamps, pencil, and colored pencil on paper, 23 x 29 in. Centre Pompidou, Paris; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Italy--1938,” <em>The New Yorker</em>, October 7, 1974. <em>Modena 1939</em>, 1970. Ink, colored pencil, watercolor, and charcoal, 19 ¾ x 25 ½ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Italy–1938,” The New Yorker, October 7, 1974. Modena 1939, 1970. Ink, colored pencil, watercolor, and charcoal, 19 ¾ x 25 ½ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Italy--1938,” <em>The New Yorker</em>, October 7, 1974. <em>Bergamo 1939 (Milano Bauhaus)</em>, 1971. Pencil, colored pencil, ink, and crayon on paper, 22 5/8 x 28 ¾ in. The Morgan Library &amp; Museum, New York; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Italy–1938,” The New Yorker, October 7, 1974. Bergamo 1939 (Milano Bauhaus), 1971. Pencil, colored pencil, ink, and crayon on paper, 22 5/8 x 28 ¾ in. The Morgan Library & Museum, New York; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Viale Romagna (Via Pascoli)</em>, 1971. Ink, crayon, and pencil on paper, 19 ½ x 25 ½ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Viale Romagna (Via Pascoli), 1971. Ink, crayon, and pencil on paper, 19 ½ x 25 ½ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.

But the Bauhaus style itself came under his critical scrutiny—for its piercing slab walls, excess of cantilevers and portholes, and not least for the short life of its poured concrete facades.

<em>Untitled</em>, 1951. Ink and crayon on paper, 10 ½ x 14 ½ in. Saul Steinberg Papers, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
Untitled, 1951. Ink and crayon on paper, 10 ½ x 14 ½ in. Saul Steinberg Papers, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
<em>Untitled</em>, 1973. Pencil, colored pencil, crayon, and rubber stamps on paper, 20 x 30 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Untitled, 1973. Pencil, colored pencil, crayon, and rubber stamps on paper, 20 x 30 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Untitled</em>, 1978. Pencil, rubber stamp, and colored pencil on paper, 18 5/8 x 14 3/8 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Untitled, 1978. Pencil, rubber stamp, and colored pencil on paper, 18 5/8 x 14 3/8 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Untitled</em>, 1985. Pencil, colored pencil, and watercolor on paper, 19 ¾ x 25 ¾ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Untitled, 1985. Pencil, colored pencil, and watercolor on paper, 19 ¾ x 25 ¾ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.

All this he caricatured through comic exaggeration, rubber stamp figures (sometimes menacing), and often dreamlike settings. The clouds floating in the sky, as in Citibank or, their punctured curvilinear forms unchanged, hovering at ground level, look like slices of the Western mesas he had drawn in the mid-60s.

<em>Untitled [Mesa]</em>, 1965. Ink, crayon, colored pencil, rubber stamps, and watercolor on paper, 14 x 23 in. Private collection.
Untitled [Mesa], 1965. Ink, crayon, colored pencil, rubber stamps, and watercolor on paper, 14 x 23 in. Private collection.
But such forms have an even older source. Speaking of his formative years, Steinberg said, “My time was late Cubism, via Bauhaus; our clouds came straight out of Arp, complete with a hole in the middle; even our trees were influenced by the mania for the kidney shape.”76 Sometimes in his visual wanderings he drolly imagined the genesis of Bauhaus architecture in a tree or a pagoda.77

<em>Blue Pagoda</em>, 1966. Lithograph with hand coloring, 20 ½ x 25 ¼ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Blue Pagoda, 1966. Lithograph with hand coloring, 20 ½ x 25 ¼ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Tree Bauhaus</em>, 1968. Lithograph, 22 ¼ x 29 1/8 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Tree Bauhaus, 1968. Lithograph, 22 ¼ x 29 1/8 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.

But in another contemporaneous drawing, the pagoda gives birth to Cubism.

<em>The Smithsonian</em>, 1967. Ink, gouache, watercolor, rubber stamps, colored pencil, crayon, and pencil on paper, 22 ½ x 28 ¼ in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
The Smithsonian, 1967. Ink, gouache, watercolor, rubber stamps, colored pencil, crayon, and pencil on paper, 22 ½ x 28 ¼ in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.

Such works are not spoofs of architectural history, but express a fundamental Steinbergian credo of drawing. “Drawing is more truthful than reality because reality is undoubtedly invented, whereas drawing is faithful. It is made according to the rules of drawing.”78

The architecture that Steinberg took the most delight in was Art Deco:

“As soon as I arrived in New York [1942], one of the things that immediately struck me was the great influence of Cubism on American architecture. And Art Deco was merely the decline of Cubism’s influence, Cubism turned decorative: the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, jukeboxes, cafeterias, shops, women’s dresses and hairdos, men’s neckties—everything was created out of Cubist elements.79

Art Deco for him expressed the exuberance and vitality of his new country, whether in skyscrapers or low-level commercial structures. But, he added, “all this ended after the war, and people embarked on…other forms of architecture. A decline, because it was really a very American world, and very optimistic.”

Art Deco (or Arte Moderne) may have declined as a design aesthetic but its geometric patterns and stylized floral motifs remained alive on Steinberg’s drawing table, off which came Deco-driven pages of New York City streets, as well as his beloved diners.

<em>Lower Broadway</em>, 1952. Ink, pencil, and crayon on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Lower Broadway, 1952. Ink, pencil, and crayon on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Jukebox</em>, 1968. Lithograph on paper, 23 x 29 ½ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Jukebox, 1968. Lithograph on paper, 23 x 29 ½ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Untitled</em>, 1969. Conté crayon, rubber stamps, pencil, and ink on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Untitled, 1969. Conté crayon, rubber stamps, pencil, and ink on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Bozeman</em>, 1979. Colored pencil, ink, and rubber stamps on wood, 30 7/8 x 40 7/8 in. Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts, Bequest of Charles Blitzer.
Bozeman, 1979. Colored pencil, ink, and rubber stamps on wood, 30 7/8 x 40 7/8 in. Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts, Bequest of Charles Blitzer.
<em>Jukebox Diner</em>, 1984. Colored pencil on paper, 14 x 11 in. Private collection.
Jukebox Diner, 1984. Colored pencil on paper, 14 x 11 in. Private collection.
<em>Canal Street</em>, 1988. Marker on three joined sheets of paper, 15 x 22 in. nstitut Valencià d’Art Modern, Valencià.
Canal Street, 1988. Marker on three joined sheets of paper, 15 x 22 in. Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Valencià.

“The diner is one of the most elegant, most pleasant, most American places. Born during the Depression, it was originally a real railway car or tram. Little by little it was enlarged, while keeping, however, its architectural structure and covering it with stamped aluminum….in shapes often derived from Cubism, and symbolizing the speed of the train and the poetic or worldly or modern qualities of the setting….[A]nd it gives prominence to the jukebox, which is built according to the laws of the Catholic or Chinese or Hindu altar, a magical object to be worshiped because all good things come from it: music, dance, love, and joy.80

The Chrysler and Empire State buildings became the royal couple who reigned over New York in an outpouring of sunbursts and chevrons, even when his urban terrorists took to the streets.

Cover of <em>The New Yorker</em>, April 2, 1960.
Cover of The New Yorker, April 2, 1960.
Original drawing for “The Power Broker,” part I, <em>The New Yorker</em>, July 22, 1974. Ink, colored pencil, and collage on paper, 14 ½ x 19 ¼ in. Private collection.
Original drawing for “The Power Broker,” part I, The New Yorker, July 22, 1974. Ink, colored pencil, and collage on paper, 14 ½ x 19 ¼ in. Private collection.
<em>Joggers</em>, 1978. Pencil and colored pencil on paper, 15 x 20 in. Private collection.
Joggers, 1978. Pencil and colored pencil on paper, 15 x 20 in. Private collection.
<em>Untitled</em>, 1974. Crayon, colored pencil, and pencil on paper, 11 x 14 in. Saul Steinberg Papers, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
Untitled, 1974. Crayon, colored pencil, and pencil on paper, 11 x 14 in. Saul Steinberg Papers, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
<em>Luna Park</em>, 1968. Collage, crayon, and watercolor on paper, 29 x 23 in. Private collection.
Luna Park, 1968. Collage, crayon, and watercolor on paper, 29 x 23 in. Private collection.
Cover of <em>The New Yorker</em>, March 13, 1978.
Cover of The New Yorker, March 13, 1978.

In one late work, those Chrysler sunbursts invade a room in a hi-rise apartment.

<em>Street Noises</em>, 1989. Colored pencil, crayon, and pencil on paper, 23 x 29 in. Private collection.
Street Noises, 1989. Colored pencil, crayon, and pencil on paper, 23 x 29 in. Private collection.

In the 1980s, Art Deco enjoyed a new incarnation in Steinberg’s hands, as he turned its streamlined horizontal geometries and piercing slabs into the mountains of the American West.

<em>Wyoming</em>, 1985 (misdated “1958” by Steinberg). Oil pastel, crayon, and pencil on paper, 17 7/8 x 24 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Wyoming, 1985 (misdated “1958” by Steinberg). Oil pastel, crayon, and pencil on paper, 17 7/8 x 24 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.

In the 1989 drawing Las Vegas, which later served as a New Yorker cover, the two sunbursts and chevron in the distant background convert the highway to Las Vegas into an emblematic highway to America. Posted along the road are his longtime national icons, but here embodied as mythical sphinxes posing unanswerable riddles.

Original drawing for <em>The New Yorker</em> cover, September 7, 1992. <em>Untitled [Las Vegas]</em>, 1989. Pencil, colored pencil, and crayon on two sheets, 27 5/8 x 20 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for The New Yorker cover, September 7, 1992. Untitled [Las Vegas], 1989. Pencil, colored pencil, and crayon on two sheets, 27 5/8 x 20 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Steinberg closed the chapter of his life as an architect-on-paper in 1990, with the publication of Canal Street, a collaborative book with an essay by Ian Frazier.81 The locus was Canal Street, jam-packed with vehicles crossing lower Manhattan to the entrance of the Holland Tunnel. The intense colors of Art Deco, its original association with speed and modernity, here become a stylistic language that simulates the noise, vehicular congestion, and hustle-bustle of pedestrians—some of whom crane upward at precariously angled skyscrapers; other drawings imagine a rooftop occupant looking down from vertiginous heights.

Frontispiece of <em>Canal Street</em>, 1990.
Frontispiece of Canal Street, 1990.
Original drawing for page in <em>Canal Street</em>, 1990. <em>Untitled</em>, 1989-90. Crayon, colored pencil, and pencil over photocopy, 17 x 14 ½ in. Saul Steinberg Papers, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
Original drawing for page in Canal Street, 1990. Untitled, 1989-90. Crayon, colored pencil, and pencil over photocopy, 17 x 14 ½ in. Saul Steinberg Papers, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
Page in <em>Canal Street</em>, 1990.
Page in Canal Street, 1990.
<em>Chinatown</em>, 1989. Colored pencil, marker, crayon, and pencil on paper, 17 x 14 in. Saul Steinberg Papers, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
Chinatown, 1989. Colored pencil, marker, crayon, and pencil on paper, 17 x 14 in. Saul Steinberg Papers, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

 


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