Cubism

Like many 20th-century artists, Steinberg was not immune to Cubism, to which he was exposed during his years at the Politecnico in the 1930s—“a comfortable school…under the influence of Cubism.”44 A Bertoldo cartoon includes a 1922 Picasso drawing on the background wall, while the 1945 Head certainly owes its profiled face to the master.45

“Arte pura,” <em>Bertoldo</em>, August 27, 1937. “I’m telling you, madame, for my watercolors I use eau de Cologne.”
“Arte pura,” Bertoldo, August 27, 1937. “I’m telling you, madame, for my watercolors I use eau de Cologne.”
<em>Head</em>, 1945. Ink over pencil on paper, 14 ½ x 23 ¼ in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation
Head, 1945. Ink over pencil on paper, 14 ½ x 23 ¼ in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation

Beginning in the 1960s, however, in a series of still lifes of desks and drawing tables, Steinberg put his own mark on one of the century’s defining styles.

<em>Apr 12 1969</em>, 1969. Rubber stamps, colored pencil, and pencil on paper, 22 ½ x 30 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation
Apr 12 1969, 1969. Rubber stamps, colored pencil, and pencil on paper, 22 ½ x 30 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation
<em>Buenos Aires Table</em>, 1969. Ink, colored pencil, pencil, oil, rubber stamps, and collage on paper, 22 ¾ x 28 ¾ in. Private collection
Buenos Aires Table, 1969. Ink, colored pencil, pencil, oil, rubber stamps, and collage on paper, 22 ¾ x 28 ¾ in. Private collection
<em>Still Life with Ledger</em>, 1969. Colored pencil, crayon, rubber stamps, pencil, ink, and dental charts on paper, 13 ½ x 21 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation
Still Life with Ledger, 1969. Colored pencil, crayon, rubber stamps, pencil, ink, and dental charts on paper, 13 ½ x 21 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation
<em>The New Yorker Airmail</em>, 1974. Pencil, colored pencil, collage, and ink on paper, 19 ¾ x 25 5/8 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
The New Yorker Airmail, 1974. Pencil, colored pencil, collage, and ink on paper, 19 ¾ x 25 5/8 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Early Works (Still Life Table)</em>, 1970. Tacks, cloth, metal plaque, oil, aluminum paint, carved wood, ink, crayon, rubber stamps, and pencil on wood panel, 15 ½ x 19 ½ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation
Early Works (Still Life Table), 1970. Tacks, cloth, metal plaque, oil, aluminum paint, carved wood, ink, crayon, rubber stamps, and pencil on wood panel, 15 ½ x 19 ½ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation
<em>Easel and Palette</em>, 1987. Mixed media on wood, 16 x 21 x 2 in. Private collection
Easel and Palette, 1987. Mixed media on wood, 16 x 21 x 2 in. 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>Nouvelles Russes</em>, 1965. Ink and collage on paper, 19 ¾ x 29 ¾ in. Private collection
Nouvelles Russes, 1965. Ink and collage on paper, 19 ¾ x 29 ¾ in. Private collection
<em>Via Aerea</em>, 1969. Colored pencil, crayon, ink, watercolor, rubber stamps, and collage on paper, 20 1/2 x 27 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Via Aerea, 1969. Colored pencil, crayon, ink, watercolor, rubber stamps, and collage on paper, 20 1/2 x 27 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.

“I play with Cubism to find out what it means….Cubism belongs to the beginning of the century. It’s impossible to re-do it. We are of our time. If I do Cubism now it’s obvious that I know too much. I’m not innocent the way they were. Mine is Cubism revisited.”46 To Steinberg, Cubism offered multiple means of pictorial construction, and his postwar visitations privilege no one Cubist mode. Rather, they became a personal journey through Cubism’s potential as a graphic language, a way of thinking pictorial thoughts.


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