The prolific period around 1970 saw the addition of sculpture to Steinberg’s output, in the form of Drawing Table reliefs, also known as Table Series—upright compositions filled with carved and painted trompe-l’oeil wood objects representing the implements of his trade, the things around his studio, the food on his plate, and even reiterations of his own work, past and present.
By the 1980s, he was making fully three-dimensional sculptures, now set on custom-made tables, chairs, and stands.
Here, with the same kind of carved objects used in the reliefs, Steinberg created still lifes, furnished rooms, and whole cityscapes.The relief sculptures were immediately preceded by drawings with similar elements,
and both media evolved from another constant in Steinberg’s art:his long engagement with imagery of the generic artist at work, whether human or animal (the cat was a favorite Steinberg stand-in).
These surveys of the creative act often fix on the transformative nature of the line that was the wellspring of his art: the-hand-holds-the-pen-drawing-the-line, no matter whether that pen produces a calligraphic flourish, a confused scribble, blank sheets of paper, geometric designs, or even the artist generating himself.