Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In Memoriam: Saul Steinberg

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In his most famous work - the March 29th, 1976, cover of The New Yorker (sometimes called View of the World or some derivation thereof) - Saul Steinberg both celebrates and chides the supposedly sophisticated Manhattanite's parochial view of the rest of the world. It was quite a bold statement to make in the Bicentennial Year, but if it offended any New Yorkers they refused to show it. The image was a best-selling poster for many years, and not just in the city itself either, but in that emotional diaspora which mysteriously exists even in the hearts of those who've never been there*.

And to think - it almost never came to be; born on this day in 1914, Steinberg's entry to the United States in 1942 was sponsored by the magazine that would be his home for the bulk of his professional life. Had founding editor Harold Ross not been successful, the man and all of his talent would likely have perished in the furnaces of Fascism.

The 85 covers and over 1200 drawings Saul Steinberg crafted for The New Yorker are elegance and simplicity themselves, confections made richer by a considerable dollop of wit; his distinctive style features strong inked lines and surreal visual elements, indicative of the man's redoubtable good nature and unique perspective on the world. Enjoy them all (and many, MANY more) in The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker, edited by Robert Mankoff and featuring all 70,000+ cartoons, doodles, scribbles, and scratchings published in the pages of the magazine between 1925 and 2006.

*Although for the life of me I can't think of anyone I know who's like that. Nope... Not one.

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