By the 1950s, Steinberg’s drawings in The New Yorker were offering a perspective on 20th-century life—architecture, rural and urban living, politics, art, family relationships, and the human condition.
It was also in this decade that he began to probe the synesthetic potential of drawing—the ability of line to create graphic equivalents to non-visual sensations.
A mainstay of Steinberg’s art is the appropriation of the vocabulary of other art for his own graphic repertoire. He did not represent what he saw; rather, he often depicted people, places, and even numbers or words in styles borrowed from other art, high and low, past and present. In his pictorial imagination, the very artifice of style, of images already processed through art, became the means to interrogate social and political systems, human foibles, geography, architecture, language, and even art itself.