Art 1 Steinberg – 9/5-9/10

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Watch the following video about Saul Steinberg.  If you need more time reading the text, just pause and restart.

Look at the following website from the Saul Steinberg Foundation.  Pay special attention to the Gallery. Notice how his works shift from 2d to 3d and how he uses his imagination to enliven everyday reality.

Saul Steinberg Foundation

In your comments, what is the most interesting aspect of his life, in your opinion?  How do you think this contributed to his development of his work?  Does his work remind you of any other artists you have seen?  What is your favorite drawing by him and why do you like it?

In your sketchbook, spend an hour (mark your time on the back) drawing a Steinberg inspired drawing about something in your life.

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36 responses »

  1. The most intersting aspect of his life is the fact that he lived in Romania. I think that contributed to his life becuase his father taught him the medium of print. I think that got his whole career started. My favorite piece of art by him is one he did in 1962. It is a picture of numbers and a cliff. I like it becuase the numbers get bigger and go of the cliff and the cliff represents a problem in someone’s life. I think it shows how there is always a answer to the problem.

  2. I think the most interesting part of his life was that he traveled so many places around the world to make art, but what he really wanted was to get to the big apple, New York. I think it really affected his art work because some of his artworks is based on his hometown and New York. My favorite piece is View of the world from 9th avenue. I like this because it shows that if you are in the right place at the right time you can see the whole world. I have not seen any other artist like this. I think his artwork is unique.

  3. What I found as the most interesting aspect of his life was when he had to stop everything for the war. I think that that affected his art very strongly. After the war his cartoons seemed to get a bit more sarcastic or even a little dark about the world. My favorite work of his is CANAL STREET, 1988. I’m not positive why I like it, but I think it has something to do with the beauty that is found within the chaos of the cartoon.

  4. I think the most interesting part of Steinberg’s life was his migration, and subsequent expulsion, from fascist Italy. If he hadn’t left, what do you think would have happened to him? One thing is for sure, he probably wouldn’t have become a famous artist. He studied to be an architect, so he must have been good at precise drawing. I think his experience of losing everything during the war may have contributed to the sarcastic, mocking, and sometimes even dark tone of his cartoons. My favorite work of his is also Canal Street. I like it because of the chaotic, funky buildings.

  5. His flight from Europe had to affect his art. The antisemitic persecution of war-time Italy probably contributed to the cynicism of many of his works. His geometric interpretations of buildings and people remind of Picasso’s cubism. This is perhaps most represented in my favorite of his drawings,Canal Street. I love how he uses random shapes and piano keys to convey the skyscrapers, symbolizing the chaos of the city.

    • Picasso certainly was an influence in the way he freed up the work of art and association. I love the way his imagination and drawings are fluid….pianos become buildings and buildings become pianos….animation does this too.

  6. In my opinion, I think the most interesting aspect of his life is that he travelled a lot of places. So he saw a lot, and he felt a lot. Then he could express his own feelings by his paintings. Also, I think the war is a very important factor as well. His wife, Hedda Sterne has the same painting style as him. As for his drawing, my favorite one is that a lounging naked woman filled with a tub in the a bathroom, which didn’t have other things. Because although he only used some lines, the imagine is so vivid.

    • He definitely brought art into all aspects of his life. Do you wonder why Hedda’s work is not as well known, given that the style is so similar? It makes me wonder how much collaboration or advice they exchanged with one another.

  7. In my opinion, the most interesting aspects of Steinberg’s life were the massive range of places and cultures he had been exposed to. This is why he was so able to capture the New York city “hustle and bustle”, he could compare it to other places he lived and been and pick out the fine things that made New York unique. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of renowned artists that remind me of Steinberg. I can, however, see the similarity between his drawings and self portraits that street vendors draw. I feel that Steinberg’s 9th Avenue is the most representative of his work and therefore his finest.

    • That’s a good point about his ability to pick out details that make a city unique because of the differences with other places he had traveled. When I traveled to NYC a couple years ago and took a bus, I felt like I was inside of a Steinberg drawing since the variety of characters was as elaborate as his drawings.

  8. I think the most interesting aspect of his life is the fact that he was recruited for WWII. It may be why he views the world in such a “cynical” way. Because he’s seen so much of the world, he has a deeper understanding of its ways, and his paintings seem as though they are trying to convey that to everyone else.
    My favorite of the drawings he did was “I Do, I Have, I Am” because it incorporated so many different mediums into it. While it was colorful and bright, it also radiates some sort of deeper meaning. In my opinion, its showing that Steinberg believed he could do anything, and he was attempting to give people that sort of confidence through his art.

  9. I think that the most exciting part of his life was when he traveled to different places because of the anti semites. The difference when he went from country to country contributed to his art. My favorite one of his arts is definitely “View of the World from 9th Avenue”. I like it because I like how well he captured the scene.

  10. I found it interesting that Steinberg was actually that he traveled many places in the world and saw many different political environments that, eventually, impacted his art. I also found it interesting that he was recruited for WWII, which speaks to the cynical humour of some of his pieces. My favourite from him would be “I Do, I Have, I Am”, simply because it’s sort of a graphic representation of six words-all of which can be very important.

  11. I think the most important aspect of his life was the fact that his father was a printer. This is important because it introduced him to his primary medium at a very young age. I’ve seen several of his cartoons in the New Yorker. My favorite drawing of his is the one with a figure drawing a line that curls around to be his leg, made in 1948.

  12. I think that the most interesting aspect of his life was his passion for art, and the way that he found inspiration by traveling the globe. I think that his experience with so many cultures enabled him to have a different outlook on life, which allowed him to see the world as a cartoon. My favorite piece from him is “View of the World from 9th Avenue”, because it conveys his thoughts very clearly. I also enjoy it for its comic value, as well as his ability to pick a theme and stick to it, which I admire.

  13. In my opinion the most important aspect of his life that influenced his artwork was his recruitment during World War II because it gave him both a more cynical or sarcastic outlook on life and also a good perspective on how to portray different people. My personal favorite of Saul Steinberg’s artwork is “View From 9th Avenue” because it shows the city from a particular perspective.

  14. I think the most interesting part of Steinberg’s life was that he his art career was jeopardized many times from fascism, the war, and living in the Dominican Republic. He faced many hardships that other artists may not have encountered in their lifetimes. This shows his dedication and passion for art. I don’t know any artists who have similar artwork, but his art does resemble that of comics in the newspaper. It also reminds me of cartoons from the Yellow Submarine movie. Very arbitrary. I like his Hitler drawing because of its humor and its relevance to culture when he drew it.

  15. The most interesting aspect of Saul’s life, to me, was all the places he traveled. I imagine that’s where he got different inspiration from, and the “cynical humour” many people keep referencing is probably something he developed from being in the war and also from experiencing anti-semitism. It seems like all the different events in his life: studying architecture in milan, being raised by a printmaker and being in a war, have had a strong influence on how his art develops. My favorite piece of art by him is “Techniques at a party” because no two people are drawn the same. Each one has a distinct personality, and they each look like they’re drawn by a completely different artist.

  16. What I find fascinating about him is the fact that he was part of the war This part of the war caused a lot of cynicism and darker drawings by him which were his best work of art. The war changed his outlook on the world and the people around him. Something I find very interesting is that there is always something about the faces of the people in the drawings that feels untrustworthy. It’s almost like he didn’t trust the people around him and this is reflected in his art. My favorite piece is Techniques at the Party because of the mixtures of mediums, colors, and other things.

  17. I belive that the most interesting part os Steinburg’s life was his exposure to many differant cultures through immigration. I feel like he developed a sense of humor along with a cynical idea of humanity. That is why most of the faces, in my opinion, look crazy or sad. My favorite pice of art by him is “Girl In Bathtub” because I think it’s very cool how he does it, using the bathtube as his paper. It creates a very cool perspective. It also creates a sense of playfulnes and optimism that his other works do not.

  18. In my opinion the most interesting part of Steinberg’s life was his time spent travelling all over the world which allowed him to bring in so many cultures into his art. The ability for him to be able to bring in all of these different cultures makes it so that his art never really looks the same because he pulls from so many styles to create his own unique style. My favorite work that he did would probably be Canal Street because of its abstract designs on either side of this street of boats. The fact that these lines are so abstract but you can still make out that they are buildings seems really cool to me.

  19. Saul Steinburg’s art career was interrupted many times–first when he fled from fascist Italy, then while he spent time waiting for a visa in the Dominican Republic, and lastly while he served in WWII. I find these migrations interesting because his work was constantly being uprooted, and his environment changing drastically. I believe his dark and cynical art style stemmed from these experiences.

    My favorite of his pieces is “View of the World from 9th Avenue.” I love the cartoonist aspects of it–the labeling of different places and the simple watercolor and pencil. It’s also funny because it’s a perfect representation of the New York attitude. Lastly, I enjoy the perspective of overlooking the city and the buildings and the world beyond.

  20. I think something that is very interesting about Steinberg is how many countries he lived in as well as how many times his life was interrupted due to some sort of political conflict. in my opinion that is what caused his views on civilization and what inspired his cynical look into society. my favorite piece by him is “girl in a bathtub” because of his use of augmented reality, he took a real bathtub and Put a drawing of a girl inside it.

  21. I find it very interesting that he had to travel to so many places before finally getting to America. This probably gave him a different perspective to draw from. The way he draws his people reminds me of the illustrations in Shell Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends. I like “View of the World from 9th Avenue.” It’s kind of pretty but it has a sense of humor. I can really see people from New York thinking like that.

  22. In my oppinion, the most interesting aspect of Saul Steinberg’s life was that he went to school to become an architect at the Politecnico in Milan. I believe this influenced his art greatly, because many of his drawings are of buildings or have an architectural feel to them. Also, that is where he first started experimenting with cartooning. Although I enjoyed nearly all of them, my favorite of his works was one he did in the year 1971. It is an ink drawing done on staff paper, which I found was very creative. The lines from the staff fit perfectly into the drawing, and the drawing itself has a very cozy feeling of a musical household.

  23. I think that one of the most interesting aspects of his life is that he lived in Romania and then moved to new York. In that way he didn’t grow up in New York and was used to it, but it was more special for him. 
    I also think that the war changed his art, and changed his point of view and way of thinking about his art.
    I think his art reminds me a little bit of Mark Tobeys, in the way they both use cross-hatching in their drawings.
    My favorite painting of Steinberg is – untitled, 1948. I like that at first the painting just seems funny because it is all one line, but then you think more about it and at least I thought that there was a lot to think about. Are the ideas from the artist coming from the mind or the tool? I could think about that painting for days, and keep on finding new ways to explain it.

  24. I believe that the most interesting aspect of Saul Steinberg’s life is that he was an architecture student. For most artists like Steinberg, who draw and sketch in a minimalist fashion, it is not common to explore the realms of possibility that two-dimensional lines allow for. Steinberg was able to use his architecture precision in his art, giving him a unique style that allowed him to become the well-known modernist he is today. His work reminded me of Art Spiegelman, who is best known for his work on Maus. Both artists shared a cynical outlook that was reflected in their art, along with a minimalist style and an exploration of two-dimensional lines. His untitled work of a man (Steinberg) tracing a large spiral is my favorite of his, due to its unabashed cynicism, expressive minimalist look, and dark humorous take on human nature.

  25. I think that how he was recruited to the war was the most interesting and influential part of his life, i think a lot of his political views and works based on the idea of travel were influenced by this. I am a fan of saul stienberg so i see his influence in a lot of political cartoons in magazines and such. my favorite work by him is passport because i think the style is interesting and i plan on traveling so i relate to the imagery in that way.

  26. I believe that the move between two and three dimensional art was one basic need to branch out. I think that while he did fantastic things with expression he was unable to capture the meaning he wanted with simple two dimensional art. I also think that this may just be a side effect of him wanting to make his pieces more visually interesting, and that moving into three dimensions could do that for him. His political and social views appeared to be shaped by this as well, and a lot of his drawings in two dimensions were greatly shaped by this, and this may correlate to his employment at the New Yorker, a very political and analytical magazine.

  27. I think the most interesting part of his life is that he was drafted to the war. I thought this affects his view of the world, then he uses his art to insinuate or satire something. His work reminds me a lot of artists who work on cartoon.My favorite one of his drawing is an abstract portrait with the background of universe… there are castles, houses, and animals along the street. This drawing is unrealistic but I like the imagination he made.

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