POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — An artist whose magic lit up the pages and covers of The New Yorker magazine for six decades, is the subject of the major new retrospective exhibition Saul Steinberg: Illuminations, organized by the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College. The exhibition features more than one hundred drawings, collages, and sculptural assemblages by the artist whom many regard as not only a comic genius but among the greatest draftsmen of the modern era. Saul Steinberg: Illuminations is the first full-scale review of his career, spanning the 1930s to the 1990s, and from December 2006 through February 2008 will be shown respectively at:
- Morgan Library and Museum (December 1, 2006 through March 4, 2007)
- Smithsonian American Art Museum (April 6 through June 24, 2007)
- Cincinnati Art Museum (July 20-September 20, 2007)
- Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center (November 2, 2007-Feb. 24, 2008)
While Saul Steinberg is best known for his work in The New Yorker – including his widely adapted 1976 rendering of a New Yorker's view of the world – the exhibition also brings to light the prolific and diverse activity for which Steinberg was celebrated from the time he arrived in New York in 1942.
Having studied architecture in Milan, where he gained early fame as a cartoonist, in America, Steinberg (1914-1999) became a propagandist, illustrator, fabric and card designer, muralist, fashion and advertising artist, stage designer, and tireless creator of image-jammed books. Until his decision in the 1960s to concentrate his efforts on gallery art and The New Yorker, Steinberg's sleek, barbed, inventive line was seen – and mimicked – everywhere from highbrow journals to Christmas cards, disseminating the look of modernism to a popular atomic-age audience.
The exhibition features rarely seen works from the collections of private lenders and The Saul Steinberg Foundation. According to curator Joel Smith, author of the 2005 book Steinberg at the New Yorker (Abrams), "Saul Steinberg's last American museum retrospective, in 1978, reflected the priorities of a living artist who wanted to be sure the public saw his career as that of a focused, museum-worthy artist. Today, what is most fascinating about Steinberg's art is the vast range he commanded, from High to Low, from murals to magazines, from caricature to cartography. To look at Steinberg's career in its full duration, depth, and variety is to catch a close-up view of the energies and contradictions of the twentieth century. You might also find yourself smiling a lot."
The catalogue for Saul Steinberg: Illuminations, published by Yale University Press, features an introduction by poet and critic Charles Simic and an essay, chronology, and object entries by curator Joel Smith. The volume's more than three hundred illustrations include color plates of works in the exhibition and many sketches, never before seen, from the Saul Steinberg Papers at Yale University. The exhibition is supported by a grant from The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.
Before concluding at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center (November 2, 2007-February 24, 2008), the exhibition will first travel to the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City (December 1, 2006-March 4, 2007), Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC (April 6-June 24, 2007), and the Cincinnati Art Museum in Cincinnati, OH (July 20, 2007-September 20, 2007).
About the Curator
Joel Smith is the curator of photography at the Princeton University Art Museum, and is the author of the recently published Steinberg at the New Yorker (Abrams). From 1999-2005 Smith was the Emily Hargroves Fisher '57 and Richard B. Fisher Curator at Vassar College's Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, responsible for the collection's modern and contemporary art and photographs. Earlier, Smith was a fellow in the Department of Photographs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, after completing his doctorate at Princeton University. Among his other publications is the book Edward Steichen: The Early Years (Princeton University Press/Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999).
About the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center was founded in 1864 as the Vassar College Art Gallery. The current 36,400-square-foot facility, designed by Cesar Pelli and named in honor of the new building's primary donor, opened in 1993. The Lehman Loeb Art Center's collections chart the history of art from antiquity to the present and comprise over 16,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, and glass and ceramic wares. Notable holdings include the Warburg Collection of Old Master prints, an important group of Hudson River School paintings given by Matthew Vassar at the college's inception, and a wide range of works by major European and American twentieth century painters. Vassar was the first U.S. college founded with a permanent art collection and gallery, and at any given time, the Permanent Collection Galleries of the Art Center feature approximately 350 works from Vassar's extensive collections.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.