Jessica R. Feldman’s Saul Steinberg’s Literary Journeys

Saul Steinbergs Literary Journeys

Published by the University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, Virginia and London, Jessica R. Feldman’s Saul Steinberg’s Literary Journeys, the first book-length study of Steinberg’s art and its relation to literature, explores his complex literary roots, particularly his fondness for modernist aesthetics and iconography. The Steinberg who emerges is an artist of far greater depth than has been previously recognized.

Feldman begins with Steinberg as a reader and writer, including surveying his personal library. She considers the practice of modernist parody as the strongest affinity between Steinberg and the two authors he repeatedly claimed as his “teachers”—Vladimir Nabokov and James Joyce. Viewing Steinberg’s art in tandem with readings of selected works by Nabokov and Joyce, Feldman illuminates the fascinating bonds between Steinberg and these writers, from their tastes for popular culture to their status as mythmakers, émigrés, and perpetual wanderers. Feldman also relates Steinberg’s uniquely literary art to a host of other authors, including Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Gogol, Tolstoy, and Defoe.

Generously illustrated with the artist’s work and drawing on invaluable archival material from The Saul Steinberg Foundation, this innovative fusion of literary history and art history allows us to see anew Steinberg’s iconic art.

Live Stream: Illustrated Talk on Saul Steinberg with The Parish Art Museum



Saul Steinberg (Romanian-American, 1914–1999), Untitled, 1980. Colored pencil, pastel, pencil, crayon and rubber stamp on Strathmore folded in half. Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation. © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Saul Steinberg (Romanian-American, 1914–1999), Untitled, 1980. Colored pencil, pastel, pencil, crayon and rubber stamp on Strathmore folded in half. Gift of The Saul Steinberg Foundation. © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


WATER MILL, NY 5/7/2020—Alicia G. Longwell, Ph.D., The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Chief Curator at the Museum, will give a livestream illustrated talk on Saul Steinberg, Friday, May 22, 5pm, joined by Paris-based photographer Daniela Roman who is the artist’s niece, and Steinberg scholar Andreea Mihalache, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, Clemson University. As a special feature, the live program will include excerpts from the 26-minute film Saul Steinberg’s Line, directed by Roman and Thierry Fontaine. The film, a portrait of Steinberg and tribute by French cartoonists, is intercut with drawings by the artist as well as footage of him drawing and creating masks. The public is invited to join the live stream talk—part of the Museum’s Friday Nights Live! series—and take part in a live chat following the presentation. Log in information is at

“Steinberg’s universal language continues to have enormous relevance for us today and I look forward to this opportunity to talk with two who are deeply knowledgeable about his life and work,” said Longwell. 

Steinberg, who lived and worked in Springs, East Hampton, for nearly half-century, is acclaimed worldwide for giving graphic definition to the postwar age through works exhibited nationally and internationally in museums and galleries, and six decades of covers and drawings published in The New Yorker. The artist reveals his unique perception of the world in whimsical depictions of birds, cats, and other real and imagined creatures, quirky abstract portraits, offbeat scenes of quotidian life, and animated architectural drawings. 

Last fall, The Saul Steinberg Foundation gifted 64 works by the artist to the Parrish Art Museum. The acquisition spans 45 years (1945-1990) and features Steinberg’s signature drawings in watercolor, pen and ink, pencil, crayon, and other media—plus rarely shown work: wooden assemblages, wallpaper, and fabric. Forty-nine works by Steinberg are featured in the exhibition Saul Steinberg: Modernist Without Portfolio, part of the Museum’s 2019-2020 overarching exhibition What We See, How We See.


About Saul Steinberg

Saul Steinberg (1914–1999) crafted a rich and ever-evolving idiom that found full expression through his parallel yet integrated careers. In subject matter and styles, he made no distinction between fine and commercial art, which he freely conflated in an oeuvre that is stylistically diverse yet consistent in depth and visual imagination. The son of a manufacturer of decorative boxes, Steinberg grew up in Bucharest. In 1933 he moved to Milan to study architecture and in 1936 began contributing to the Italian humor newspaper Bertoldo. The promulgation of anti-Semitic racial laws in 1938 led him to seek refuge elsewhere, finally arriving in the U.S. in 1942. Through an agent in New York, his drawings had already begun to appear in U.S. periodicals; his first drawing in The New Yorker was published in October 1941.In 1946, Steinberg was included in the critically acclaimed Fourteen Americans show at The Museum of Modern Art, exhibiting with Arshile Gorky, Isamu Noguchi, and Robert Motherwell. In 1959 he purchased a house in Springs, near Amagansett, where he began to spend more time after the mid-1960s. He was embraced by the artistic community and the house became a refuge from his busy New York City life. 

About Alicia Longwell

At the Parrish Art Museum, Alicia Longwell has pursued a special interest in the history of the art and artists of Eastern Long Island. She has organized numerous survey exhibitions, including Malcolm Morley: Painting, Paper, Process (2012), Dorothea Rockburne: In My Mind’s Eye (2011), Sand: Memory, Meaning and Metaphor (2008); and North Fork/South Fork: East End Art Now (2004) and has curated solo exhibitions on the work of artists Barbara Bloom, Marsden Hartley, Frederick Kiesler, Alan Shields, Esteban Vicente, and Jack Youngerman, among others. Longwell has authored many publications for the Parrish including Jane Freilicher and Jane Wilson: Seen and Unseen (2015); William Glackens (2014, contributing essay); William Merritt Chase in the Collection of the Parrish Art Museum, 2014; Angels, Demons, and Savages: Pollock, Ossorio, Dubuffet (2013; contributing essay), and many others Longwell received her Ph.D. degree from the Graduate Center, City University of New York, where her dissertation topic was John Graham, the subject of a critically acclaimed retrospective she organized for the Parrish Art Museum in 2017. 


Friday Nights Live! Live-Stream Talk

Alicia Longwell with Daniela Roman and Andreea Mihalache, Ph.D.

Friday, May 22, 5 pm 

Friday Nights are made possible, in part, by Presenting Sponsor: Bank Of America
Additional support provided by The Corcoran Group, and Sandy and Stephen Perlbinder. 


About the Parrish Art Museum

Inspired by the natural setting and artistic life of Long Island’s East End, the Parrish Art Museum illuminates the creative process and how art and artists transform our experiences and understanding of the world and how we live in it. The Museum fosters connections among individuals, art, and artists through care and interpretation of the collection, presentation of exhibitions, publications, educational initiatives, programs, and artists-in-residence. The Parrish is a center for cultural engagement, an inspiration and destination for the region, the nation, and the world. 


Saul Steinberg: Modernist Without Portfolio at the Parrish Art Museum. November 10, 2019 – April 2021

Famed worldwide for giving graphic definition to the postwar age, Saul Steinberg (American, b. Romania, 1914–1999) was renowned for the covers, drawings, and cartoons that appeared in The New Yorker for nearly six decades. He was equally acclaimed for the drawings, paintings, prints, collages, and sculptures he exhibited internationally in galleries and museums. Steinberg crafted a rich and ever-evolving idiom that found full expression through these parallel careers, making no distinction between high and low art, which he freely mingled.

Saul Steinberg: Imagined Interiors at Pace Gallery. March 23, 2020 – April 6, 2020

Saul Steinberg (1914-1999) redefined the possibilities of drawing, casting it as a philosophical investigation, “a way of reasoning on paper.” His ingenious experiments with drawing and other media, including photography, collage, and sculpture, earned him critical acclaim as a modernist artist in the post-war period, while his numerous drawings and covers for The New Yorker made him dear to a broad American public—the people whose daily lives and customs became the subject of his art.

Curated by Michaela Mohrmann

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