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
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.
“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.