Paper-bag Masks

Following quickly upon the cut-paper figures in The Americans was another Steinberg invention. Between 1959 and 1963, he produced paper-bag masks with an array of social species, made famous through the photographs taken by Inge Morath of the artist and his friends wearing the masks in various settings.35

The idea of disguise is central to Steinberg’s art. In the world as he saw it, everyone wears a mask, whether real or metaphorical. People invent personas through makeup, facial expression, hairstyles, and these facades become who they are. “The mask,” Steinberg wrote, “is a protection against revelation.”36

<em>Mask</em>, 1959-62. Crayon and pencil on brown paper bag, 14 5/8 x 7 ¾ in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation
Mask, 1959-62. Crayon and pencil on brown paper bag, 14 5/8 x 7 ¾ in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation
<em>Mask</em>, 1961. Ink, crayon, and collage on brown paper bag, 15 ¾ x 8 ¼ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation
Mask, 1961. Ink, crayon, and collage on brown paper bag, 15 ¾ x 8 ¼ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation
<em>Mask</em>, 1959-62. Marker, colored pencil, and pencil on brown paper bag, 13 ¼ x 7 5/8 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation
Mask, 1959-62. Marker, colored pencil, and pencil on brown paper bag, 13 ¼ x 7 5/8 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation
<em>Mask</em>, 1959-62. Ink and crayon on brown paper bag, 14 ¾ x 8 ¼ in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation
Mask, 1959-62. Ink and crayon on brown paper bag, 14 ¾ x 8 ¼ in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation
<em>Mask</em>, 1959-62. Ink and crayon on brown paper bag, 15 7/8 x 7 7/8 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation
Mask, 1959-62. Ink and crayon on brown paper bag, 15 7/8 x 7 7/8 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation
<em>Mask</em>, 1959-62. Marker, colored pencil, crayon, and pastel on brown paper bag, 10 5/8 x 8 3/8 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation
Mask, 1959-62. Marker, colored pencil, crayon, and pastel on brown paper bag, 10 5/8 x 8 3/8 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation
<em>Untitled</em> (from the Mask Series with Saul Steinberg), 1962. Photograph by Inge Morath, © The Inge Morath Foundation
Untitled (from the Mask Series with Saul Steinberg), 1962. Photograph by Inge Morath, © The Inge Morath Foundation
<em>Small Family Group, Chelsea Hotel</em> (from the Mask Series with Saul Steinberg), 1962. Photograph by Inge Morath, © The Inge Morath Foundation
Small Family Group, Chelsea Hotel (from the Mask Series with Saul Steinberg), 1962. Photograph by Inge Morath, © The Inge Morath Foundation
<em>Group Portrait with Masks</em> (from the Mask Series with Saul Steinberg), 1962. Photograph by Inge Morath, © The Inge Morath Foundation
Group Portrait with Masks (from the Mask Series with Saul Steinberg), 1962. Photograph by Inge Morath, © The Inge Morath Foundation

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