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Saul Steinberg

Saul Steinberg Installation

Saul Steinberg is on view from September 12, 2017, to May 18, 2018, in the Gallery's East Building, Mezzanine.

Saul Steinberg (1914–1999) was born in Romania to parents of Russian Jewish descent in an anti-Semitic climate. No matter how famous he became as a cover artist for the New Yorker magazine or for his works exhibited in galleries and museums, he continued to see himself as an immigrant to the United States and an outsider—an awareness that colored much of his work.

Steinberg moved from Bucharest to Milan in 1933 to study architecture. There he became deeply engaged in drawing, contributing cartoons to Bertoldo, an Italian newspaper specializing in humor and satire. However, racial laws imposed in 1938 by Benito Mussolini, which included barring Jews from most professions, put a halt to that. Steinberg remained in Milan long enough to earn his architectural degree, but all the while he looked for refuge in another country. He finally arrived in Manhattan in the summer of 1942, already having published drawings in the New Yorker. On February 19, 1943, the same day that he joined the US Naval Reserve, Steinberg became an American citizen. While he gained quick acceptance in his adopted country, he always maintained his status as an outsider, a visiting inspector of sorts, with a mordant wit and a sharp eye.

This installation celebrates a gift to the National Gallery of Art from The Saul Steinberg Foundation. The generous gift comprises 34 drawings, a sketchbook, and a photograph. A selection of these works is displayed below.