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Saul Steinberg: Illuminations [Hardcover]

Joel Smith

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Book Description

1 Sep 2006 0300115865 978-0300115864 1
Best known for his barbed and brilliant art for the New Yorker, Saul Steinberg (1914-1999) did much more. He executed public murals, designed fabrics and stage sets, was an inventive collagist and printmaker, and turned his magic touch to the fields of painting, sculpture, advertising, and even wartime propaganda. This is the first comprehensive look at Steinberg's extraordinary contribution to twentieth-century art, which was that of a modern-day illuminator, putting word and image in play to create art that spoke to the eyes, and minds, of readers. An introduction by poet Charles Simic tracks the origins of Steinberg's darkly comic sensibility in the 'Balkan bazaar' of his native Romania. Joel Smith shows how architectural training and an early rise to fame as a cartoonist in Fascist-era Milan honed the artist's gift for subtle graphic invention, and explores why one of the most visible, prolific, potent, and cosmopolitan careers in postwar American art has so thoroughly evaded serious study. Tracing the evolving motives that underlie Steinberg's multi-layered activity, this handsome volume also raises fundamental questions about the historiography of modernism and the vexed status of 'the middlebrow avant-garde' in an age of museum-bound art. Previously unseen sketches, documents, and printed matter from the artist's papers illustrate the essay, career chronology, and entries for 120 objects featured in this important book.

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About the Author

Joel Smith is curator of photography at the Princeton University Art Museum and author of Steinberg at the New Yorker (Abrams, 2005). Charles Simic is professor of English at the University of New Hampshire and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Splendid Volume for Connoisseurs of Saul Steinberg 6 Feb 2007
By Steven E. Frenkel - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
First, I must confess that I am predisposed to enjoying this book. I love everything about the man and his work. Over the past several years I've acquired fourteen volumes of Steinberg's art as well as other printed pieces. Before the internet this would have been almost impossible and very costly. My earliest recollection of art I had strong feelings about goes back to the late 1940's when I saw a series of drawings by Saul Steinberg in The New Yorker.

That being said, this catalog is one of the finest volumes of his work to date. It is a generously sized book at 10 x 12 inches, hardcover and 288 pages. It is printed on a matte coated paper which means the reproductions are excellent. The book is very well thought out. It begins with two illustrated essays. They are followed by the catalogue of the exhibition. This is followed by notes, chronologies and other information which illuminates Mr. Steinberg's career.

It is a very well designed book. The type choices and page formats make it quite easy to actually read. This is not always the case since the advent of computer composition. The catalogue section gives each work of art a two-page spread. The title, pictorial information and a brief commentary are on the left facing page and a reproduction is on the right facing page. The illustrations are large and accurate to the originals. For some art works there are extra illustrations below the commentary on the left facing page.

If you are intrigued about this artist, Saul Steinberg ILLUMINATIONS, is a must for your library. To round out your collection, consider purchasing STEINBERG AT THE NEW YORKER which was recently published and should still be available. If you are interested in seeing the actual exhibition, you should be able to find information online at the Saul Steinberg Foundation website.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great overview of Steinberg's career, minus the New Yorker stuff 19 Jan 2007
By Austin Kleon - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"A writer who draws," that's how Steinberg described himself, and that's what Joel Smith's explores in his great essay on Steinberg's life and art which accompanies the pieces from the ILLUMINATIONS show. If you're looking for Steinberg's New Yorker work, you won't find it here. (Buy the must-have Complete New Yorker on DVD and you'll have everything he ever published there!) But if you're looking for a good place to start on Steinberg, this is the book.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, inventive. 22 Feb 2007
By Penelope - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The marvelous Saul Steinberg exhibition at the Morgan Library in NYC is almost too much to take in even if one devotes an entire afternoon. Unlike some art exhibitions, Saul Steinberg's work is full of references and verbal ques that make ones brain fire on all cylinders simlutaneously. That can be exhilarating, but also exhausting. Saul Steinberg, the book, allows one to take in the artists's work in smaller bites: indeed, you can dip into the book at any page and be well fed. Don't miss the exhibition. But then, make sure you get the book.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Steinberg 10 Mar 2007
By Raul R. Nunez - Published on
This book sums up most of the best work of Saul Steinberg, and for those who like his graphics, an absolute "must have"
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opening pleasure! 18 May 2008
By D Smyth - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I confess - up to now, I had written off Saul Steinberg as "that New York poster guy." Then I got this book at the library, and what an eye-opener! This is an artist with an amazingly strong vision and message, often bitingly satirical, with incredible figures and dazzling compositions, working in a surprising range of materials (pencil, ink, watercolor, crayon, and rubber-stamping - often on the same piece).
I particularly delight in his wide-ranging "cartoon" people - playing style against style, turning expectations inside out, displaying a strong commentary on modern America with his demented cowboys, high-fashion women, and multiple little stamped inspectors offering a silent commentary to the various goings-on.
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