Saul Steinberg Exhibition

Adam Baumgold Gallery (60 E 66th St.)

poster for Saul Steinberg Exhibition
[Image: Saul Steinberg "Parade 2" (1951) Ink, colored pencil, watercolor on paper, 14 x 23 in. Reproduced: Saul Steinberg The Passport (1979 edition); The Discovery of America.]

This event has ended.

Adam Baumgold Gallery presents an exhibition of 40 works by Saul Steinberg (1914-1999), one of the 20th century’s most enigmatic and inventive artists. The exhibition will include drawings, works on paper and mixed media constructions, and several emblematic works from Steinberg’s retrospectives at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 1978, and from Steinberg Illuminations, at the Morgan Library & Museum in 2006. There will be many early drawings from the 1940s and 1960s that were reproduced in the Steinberg books All in Line, The Art of Living, The Passport, The Labyrinth, The New World, Le Masque, and The Inspector, as well as The New Yorker.

Featured will be the iconic Dancing Couple, 1965, in which a precisely rendered man dances with a stick figured, comic woman, and Saul Steinberg’s early, masterful drawing Drugstore, 1946, (reproduced in The Art of Living). Drugstore shows a slice of old New York, with a crowded luncheonette counter and a pharmacy teeming with activity in a dazzling perspectival display.

In Steinberg’s Untitled (Cocktail Party), c. 1949-1954, each guest at the crowded gathering is rendered in a different drawing style—bold contour, rough scribble, precise cross-hatch, etc. The two drawings Stages of Life (Man),1954, and Stages of Life (Women), 1954, employ the simple, abstract visual device of a victory stand to compose a satiric drawing about how we progress through life. Untitled (Men) pictures the same stoic face from tot, to cub scout, to graduate, to business professional, and finally to retiree on a beach. The brilliantly rendered Drawing of Drawing, 1966, exhibited at Steinberg’s Whitney retrospective, answers the art about art question literally.

Three of the artist’s mixed media “table” sculptures, Travel Table, 1982, Cairo, 1981, and Venice Table, 1979 incorporate “eye-fooling fakes” of his drawing tools—a box of whittled wooden pencils, a paintbrush—as well as imagined odds and ends of his desk: a slice of cucumber, an old photograph, a postcard, etc. Harold Rosenberg describes this series of work as “fabrication that stands for him but also hides him. The Tables continue his autobiography in personal terms that betray no secrets.”1

Double Still Life, 1981, the cover drawing for Steinberg’s exhibition Still Life and Architecture, is populated with some of the artist’s prized objects: a Delft vase, toy tin alligator, Japanese postcard, a studio clock, etc. Tacked to the wall is a drawing within this drawing, containing a cryptic visual puzzle of interwoven symbols—pen and inkwell, decanter, loaf of bread with knife, and a burning candle.

In Saul Steinberg’s drawing Allegory, 1963, exhibited in the Whitney and Morgan retrospectives, “virtually every detail invites one-to-one symbolic translation and gendering a sense of familiarity that feels like understanding. A stork is birth; a skeleton death; Uncle Sam climbing Jacob’s ladder is some kind of progress. Art finds her ideal subject in the mirror, whileReason (a Pythagorean diagram) is caressed by voluptuous Beauty…”2 Any connection among the symbols of Allegory becomes illusory. Steinberg said of his art, “what I am playing with is the voyage between perception and understanding.”3

1 Harold Rosenberg, “Saul Steinberg,” p. 30.

2 Joel Smith, “Saul Steinberg Illuminations,” p. 156.

3 Joel Smith, “Saul Steinberg Illuminations,” p. 156.



from February 01, 2018 to March 17, 2018

Opening Reception on 2018-02-01 from 18:00 to 20:00


Saul Steinberg

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