Collage

As a mural-collage, The Americans is unique in the history of mural-making, coming as it does from the hand of one of the great collagistes of the 20th century. Whether in monumental form, as in the Brussels mural, or as cutouts, added labels, photographs, receipts, and tickets on works on paper or relief sculptures, collage resonates throughout Steinberg’s career.31

Anti-Fascist cartoon in <em>PM</em>, March 23, 1943.
Anti-Fascist cartoon in PM, March 23, 1943.
Drawing and collage accompanying article “Soap Opera.” <em>Fortune</em>, March 1946.
Drawing and collage accompanying article “Soap Opera.” Fortune, March 1946.
Drawing and collage, “Juke Box.” <em>Harper’s Bazaar</em>, August 1951.
Drawing and collage, “Juke Box.” Harper’s Bazaar, August 1951.
<em>Untitled</em>, 1950. Ink, colored pencil, pencil, and collage on paper, 14 ½ x 23 ½ in. The Morgan Library & Museum, New York; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Untitled, 1950. Ink, colored pencil, pencil, and collage on paper, 14 ½ x 23 ½ in. The Morgan Library & Museum, New York; Gift of 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>Vichy Water Still Life</em>, c. 1953. Ink, pencil, watercolor, lacquer, wash, veneer, and collage on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Vichy Water Still Life, c. 1953. Ink, pencil, watercolor, lacquer, wash, veneer, and collage on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Fabric collage, “Saul Steinberg’s View of ‘The Threepenny Opera,’ Revived.” <em>Vogue</em>, May 15, 1954.
Fabric collage, “Saul Steinberg’s View of ‘The Threepenny Opera,’ Revived.” Vogue, May 15, 1954.
<em>Subway</em>, 1954. Ink, crayon, and charcoal on torn brown paper mounted to board, 26 x 19 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Subway, 1954. Ink, crayon, and charcoal on torn brown paper mounted to board, 26 x 19 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Advertisement for Simplicity Patterns, 1955.
Advertisement for Simplicity Patterns, 1955.
Pages from an advertising brochure for Lincoln automobiles, 1959.
Pages from an advertising brochure for Lincoln automobiles, 1959.
Part of the drawing for <em>Types of Architecture</em>, 1954. Full drawing: ink, crayon, colored pencil, and reproduction of a Mondrian on paper folded into 21 sections, 18 x 299 ½ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Part of the drawing for Types of Architecture, 1954. Full drawing: ink, crayon, colored pencil, and reproduction of a Mondrian on paper folded into 21 sections, 18 x 299 ½ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Untitled</em>, 1968. Labels, pencil, and ink on sheet music paper, 19 x 14 1/8 in. Private collection.
Untitled, 1968. Labels, pencil, and ink on sheet music paper, 19 x 14 1/8 in. Private collection.
<em>Untitled [Knight and Pineapple]</em>, c. 1970. Pencil, colored pencil, collage, watercolor, ink, and rubber stamps on lithograph, 23 ½ x 30 in. Private collection
Untitled [Knight and Pineapple], c. 1970. Pencil, colored pencil, collage, watercolor, ink, and rubber stamps on lithograph, 23 ½ x 30 in. Private collection
<em>Konak</em>, c. 1970. Colored pencil, pencil, rubber stamps, and collage on paper, 23 x 31 ½ in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Konak, c. 1970. Colored pencil, pencil, rubber stamps, and collage on paper, 23 x 31 ½ in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Flowers and Ink Bottles</em>, 1985. Watercolor, crayon, colored pencil, charcoal, gouache, pencil, and collage on paper, 21 ¼ x 19 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Flowers and Ink Bottles, 1985. Watercolor, crayon, colored pencil, charcoal, gouache, pencil, and collage on paper, 21 ¼ x 19 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.

As if collage itself were insufficient, he often incorporated drawings that simulated collage elements, or used collaged patches to correct a drawing.

<em>Untitled [Mail]</em>, 1962. Ink, watercolor, crayon, pencil, and collage on paper, 23 x 14 ½ in. Drawing for <em>The New Yorker</em> cover, September 17, 1966. Private collection
Untitled [Mail], 1962. Ink, watercolor, crayon, pencil, and collage on paper, 23 x 14 ½ in. Drawing for The New Yorker cover, September 17, 1966. Private collection
<em>Untitled</em>, 1965. Pencil, ink, colored pencil, and collage on paper, 22 ¼ x 27 ½ in. Private collection
Untitled, 1965. Pencil, ink, colored pencil, and collage on paper, 22 ¼ x 27 ½ in. Private collection
<em>Untitled</em>, 1975. Pencil, crayon, colored pencil, rubber stamps, punched holes, and collage on paper, 19 5/8 x 25 5/8 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation
Untitled, 1975. Pencil, crayon, colored pencil, rubber stamps, punched holes, and collage on paper, 19 5/8 x 25 5/8 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation
<em>Erba Still Life</em>, 1986. Crayon, colored pencil, foil, and collage on wood, 16 x 21 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation
Erba Still Life, 1986. Crayon, colored pencil, foil, and collage on wood, 16 x 21 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation
<em>Swiss Still Life</em>, 1988. Watercolor, marker, ink, colored pencil, and collage on paper, 17 7/8 x 23 7/8 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation
Swiss Still Life, 1988. Watercolor, marker, ink, colored pencil, and collage on paper, 17 7/8 x 23 7/8 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation
<em>Looking Down</em>, 1988. Felt marker, crayon, colored pencil, conté crayon, and collage on paper, 20 x 14 in. Drawing for <em>The New Yorker</em> cover, February 28, 1994. The Saul Steinberg Foundation
Looking Down, 1988. Felt marker, crayon, colored pencil, conté crayon, and collage on paper, 20 x 14 in. Drawing for The New Yorker cover, February 28, 1994. The Saul Steinberg Foundation

“I play with the absurdity of reality. There is something absurd about what we consider to be real—even what we consider to be absurd.”32 If anything marks Steinberg’s place in the course of 20th-century art and defines his eclectic, high-low imagination, it is collage. “I was born,” he said, “in a college for collages.” His father “had all the materials for a collagiste. He had cardboard, he had colored paper, he had gilt paper and glue…[and] reproductions of paintings for candy boxes.”33 His boyhood passed, Steinberg’s serious exploration of collage began in the 1930s through Bertoldo, which regularly published cartoons amplified by collage, including works by Steinberg himself.34

“Panorami di Steinberg,” <em>Bertoldo</em>, February 11, 1938.
“Panorami di Steinberg,” Bertoldo, February 11, 1938.
“Busti,” <em>Bertoldo</em>, April 27, 1937. “No, dear sir. It’s the other half you were supposed to make.”
“Busti,” Bertoldo, April 27, 1937. “No, dear sir. It’s the other half you were supposed to make.”

Collage remained a fixture of his art, and nowhere more dramatically or provocatively than in The Americans.


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