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Steinberg at the New Yorkerby Joel Smith
Synopses & Reviews
For six decades, Saul Steinberg's covers, cartoons, features, and illustrations were a defining presence at The New Yorker. As the magazine became a standard-bearer of taste and intelligence in American letters, Steinberg's drawings emerged as its visual epitome. This richly illustrated book, featuring Joel Smith's astute text and a captivating introduction by the artist's friend and colleague Ian Frazier, explores the remarkable range and unceasing evolution of a major American modernist-one whose art reached a grateful public not from museum walls but from the pages of the periodical he called "my refuge, patria, and safety net."
All Steinberg's New Yorker covers appear here in full color, along with over 130 examples of inside art, from black-line drawings to elaborate color portfolios. Also included are Steinberg's most beloved, intuitive, and brilliant inspirations, among them a New York populated with stoical cats, precocious children, puzzled couples, and a menagerie of vivid grotesques. A vibrant celebration of one of the most original and engaging artists of the 20th century, Steinberg at The New Yorker brings alive a genius, a magazine, and an era.
"Steinberg's high-concept graphic art — epitomized by his oft-imitated cartoon map in which a Manhattan distended with self-importance shoves the continents of North America and Asia to the margins — is enchantingly showcased in this lavishly illustrated retrospective of his work for the New Yorker. Smith, a curator at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar and author of Edward Steichen: The Early Years, surveys six decades of Steinberg's pieces, including all 89 New Yorker covers (in full color), cartoons, wartime sketches from overseas, evocative (but never literal-minded) illustrations for articles, and unpublished items from the artist's portfolio. The material is arranged thematically, examining such recurring motifs as cats, pedestals and rubber-stamped figures and documenting the turn to visual metaphor in Steinberg's later work, where symbolic graphic representations of sound, abstract relationships and existential conundrums replace the usual scenario-with-verbal-punch line cartoon setup. Smith's pithy biographical essay situates Steinberg as a self-conscious modernist who helped develop a distinctive New Yorker visual style, one with 'a wry, informal wit... attuned to the jittery optimism of the Atomic Age.' Steinberg's cartoons usually made readers think before they laughed, and so will this splendid memorial to a 20th-century artistic landmark." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Steinberg published drawings in The New Yorker for nearly 60 years until his death in 1999, and no fan will want to be without this elegantly produced tribute, the first to draw on his collected papers and to posthumously study his life and work. Smith (Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College) supplies thoughtful text to accompany 89 New Yorker covers and a selection of some 500 drawings, arranged thematically (with chronology in the back seat). Aside from a couple exceptions that the editor could not resist, the drawings presented are ones that Steinberg approved for publication, the limitation being imposed out of respect for his close self-editing; some appeared in the magazine in black & white but are here reproduced in their original color. Writer Ian Frazier, Steinberg's long-time friend, provides a charming, personal introduction. The book is oversize: 10x12".
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Joel Smith has been the Fisher Curator at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College since 1999. He is the author of Edward Steichen: The Early Years. Ian Frazier is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker. His previous books include the national bestseller Great Plains.
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