The Postcard as Subject

The postcard-style technique made its way into other compositions.

Cover of <em>The New Yorker</em>, June 6, 1970
Cover of The New Yorker, June 6, 1970
<em>Untitled</em>, 1969. Ink, pencil, crayon, oil, and watercolor on paper, 19 ¾ x 15 in. Private collection
Untitled, 1969. Ink, pencil, crayon, oil, and watercolor on paper, 19 ¾ x 15 in. Private collection
Cover of <em>The New Yorker</em>, February 5, 1972.
Cover of The New Yorker, February 5, 1972.
<em>The Tree</em>, 1970. Oil on canvas, 46 x 78 in. Private collection
The Tree, 1970. Oil on canvas, 46 x 78 in. Private collection
<em>The Airport</em>, 1973. Oil on paper, 28 7/8 x 39 7/8 in. Private collection
The Airport, 1973. Oil on paper, 28 7/8 x 39 7/8 in. Private collection
<em>Western Projects</em>, 1981. Watercolor, colored pencil, pencil, rubber stamps, collage, ink, and embossed foil on paper, 30 x 20 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation
Western Projects, 1981. Watercolor, colored pencil, pencil, rubber stamps, collage, ink, and embossed foil on paper, 30 x 20 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation

And within a few years, the postcard itself became an independent subject. Steinberg treated his collection of postcards, accumulated during a lifetime of travels, as a pre-given iconography of chamber of commerce promotions. Cities, corporations, and businesses define themselves through selected images of their architecture and monuments, usually photographed in stark frontality or dramatically receding perspective. To Steinberg, such souvenir postcards comprised a separate universe of imagery, which he then transformed by simplifying sites and architectural details, while filling the streets with cartoonish vehicles and pedestrians. These drawings are not about the sites, but about a form of pictorial posturing which, transmitted through the medium of postcards, fosters a pseudo-reality.63

Original drawing for the portfolio “Postcards,” <em>The New Yorker</em>, January 16, 1978. <em>Garden State Pkwy Toll Plaza, Asbury, N.J.</em>, 1977. Watercolor, ink, colored pencil and pencil with collage on paper, 13 ¾ x 21 5/8 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Postcards,” The New Yorker, January 16, 1978. Garden State Pkwy Toll Plaza, Asbury, N.J., 1977. Watercolor, ink, colored pencil and pencil with collage on paper, 13 ¾ x 21 5/8 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Postcards,” <em>The New Yorker</em>, January 16, 1978. <em>Colton, California</em>, 1982. Whereabouts unknown. Published in Steinberg, <em>The Discovery of America</em>, 1992, p. 67
Original drawing for the portfolio “Postcards,” The New Yorker, January 16, 1978. Colton, California, 1982. Whereabouts unknown. Published in Steinberg, The Discovery of America, 1992, p. 67
Original drawing for the portfolio “Postcards,” The New Yorker, February 25, 1980. Athens Greece, 1978. Colored pencil, crayon, and pencil on paper, 15 x 22 ½ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation
Original drawing for the portfolio “Postcards,” The New Yorker, February 25, 1980. Athens Greece, 1978. Colored pencil, crayon, and pencil on paper, 15 x 22 ½ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation
Original drawing for the portfolio “Postcards,” <em>The New Yorker</em>, February 25, 1980. <em>Milan Italy</em>, 1976. Colored pencil, crayon, and pencil on paper, 14 3/8 x 21 ¼ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Postcards,” The New Yorker, February 25, 1980. Milan Italy, 1976. Colored pencil, crayon, and pencil on paper, 14 3/8 x 21 ¼ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Post Office,” <em>The New Yorker</em>, March 1, 1982. <em>Canal St. Station</em>, 1981. Crayon, colored pencil, and pencil on paper 14 x 21 ¼ in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Post Office,” The New Yorker, March 1, 1982. Canal St. Station, 1981. Crayon, colored pencil, and pencil on paper 14 x 21 ¼ in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>U.S. Post Office, Cincinnati, Ohio</em>, 1981. Crayon, pencil, ink, gouache, and colored pencil on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
U.S. Post Office, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1981. Crayon, pencil, ink, gouache, and colored pencil on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Nashville, Tennessee [Post Office]</em>, 1981. Pencil, crayon, and colored pencil on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Nashville, Tennessee [Post Office], 1981. Pencil, crayon, and colored pencil on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Bank,” <em>The New Yorker</em>, May 19, 1986. <em>Untitled (Citibank)</em>, 1986. Pencil, colored pencil, and crayon on paper 14 ½ x 23 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Bank,” The New Yorker, May 19, 1986. Untitled (Citibank), 1986. Pencil, colored pencil, and crayon on paper 14 ½ x 23 in. The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Bank,” <em>The New Yorker</em>, May 19, 1986. <em>Untitled</em>, 1986. Colored markers, ink, ballpoint pen, colored pencil, crayon, foil and paper collage on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Bank,” The New Yorker, May 19, 1986. Untitled, 1986. Colored markers, ink, ballpoint pen, colored pencil, crayon, foil and paper collage on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>Paradise Cabins</em>, 1976. Colored pencil, pencil, and crayon on paper, 14 x 21 ¾ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Paradise Cabins, 1976. Colored pencil, pencil, and crayon on paper, 14 x 21 ¾ in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
<em>State Line Motel</em>, 1978. Colored pencil on paper, 14 x 22 ½ in. Private collection.
State Line Motel, 1978. Colored pencil on paper, 14 x 22 ½ in. Private collection.

Even life on the streets lends itself to the postcard format, whether rural America or New York City’s Lexington Avenue.

Original drawing for the portfolio “Country Traffic,” <em>The New Yorker</em>, December 1, 1980. <em>Henderson Church</em>, 1978. Colored pencil on paper, 14 ½ x 22 ¼ in. Private collection.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Country Traffic,” The New Yorker, December 1, 1980. Henderson Church, 1978. Colored pencil on paper, 14 ½ x 22 ¼ in. Private collection.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Country Traffic,” <em>The New Yorker</em>, December 1, 1980. <em>American National</em>, 1978. Colored pencil and ink on paper, 16 x 22 ½ in. Private collection.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Country Traffic,” The New Yorker, December 1, 1980. American National, 1978. Colored pencil and ink on paper, 16 x 22 ½ in. Private collection.
<em>Chrysler Building at 42nd Street</em>, 1983. Pencil and colored pencil on paper, 13 x 19 ¾ in. Collection of Richard and Ronay Menschel. Variant of drawing published in the portfolio “Lexington Avenue,” <em>The New Yorker</em>, July 4, 1983.
Chrysler Building at 42nd Street, 1983. Pencil and colored pencil on paper, 13 x 19 ¾ in. Collection of Richard and Ronay Menschel. Variant of drawing published in the portfolio “Lexington Avenue,” The New Yorker, July 4, 1983.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Lexington Avenue,” <em>The New Yorker</em>, July 4, 1983. <em>Overpass at 58th Street</em>, 1983. Pencil and colored pencil on paper, 14 x 23 in. Collection of Diana and Alfredo Lowenstein.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Lexington Avenue,” The New Yorker, July 4, 1983. Overpass at 58th Street, 1983. Pencil and colored pencil on paper, 14 x 23 in. Collection of Diana and Alfredo Lowenstein.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Lexington Avenue,” <em>The New Yorker</em>, July 4, 1983. <em>Lexington Ave at 28th Street (Approx.)</em>, 1983. Pencil, colored pencil, and crayon on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.
Original drawing for the portfolio “Lexington Avenue,” The New Yorker, July 4, 1983. Lexington Ave at 28th Street (Approx.), 1983. Pencil, colored pencil, and crayon on paper, 14 ½ x 23 in. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.

And in a series of drawings of the later 1980s, Steinberg revisited Southern California. Whereas his trip to Los Angeles in 1950 had yielded waggish black-and-white takes on the region’s flashy ostentations and bizarreries, he now set La La Land in a brightly colored comic book world of quasi-geometric trees and French-curve clouds.

Original drawing for the portfolio “The Coast,” <em>The New Yorker</em>, January 27, 1951. <em>Exterminator No. 9</em>, 1950, ink on paper, 14 ½ x 11 ½ in. Saul Steinberg Papers, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
Original drawing for the portfolio “The Coast,” The New Yorker, January 27, 1951. Exterminator No. 9, 1950, ink on paper, 14 ½ x 11 ½ in. Saul Steinberg Papers, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
<em>Moonlight in Brentwood</em>, 1990. Crayon and watercolor on paper, 23 x 29 in. Private collection.
Moonlight in Brentwood, 1990. Crayon and watercolor on paper, 23 x 29 in. Private collection.

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