Today in Yiddishkayt… June 15
Birthday of Saul Steinberg, Cartoonist
Saul Steinberg was born on June 15, 1914 in Râmnicu Sărat, Romania. He studied philosophy for one year at the University of Bucharest, then later studied architecture at the Politecnico di Milano. During his years in Milan, he began producing cartoons for the satirical magazine Bertoldo. Steinberg attempted to emigrate to the U.S in 1940, after the introduction of anti-Semitic laws by Mussolini’s Fascist government. However, he was sent back to Europe; then after a second attempt, deported to the Dominican Republic. While awaiting a U.S visa, he submitted cartoons to various foreign publications and several of his drawings appeared in Life magazine and Harper’s Bazaar. In 1942, The New Yorker magazine sponsored his entry into the United States, and thus began Steinberg’s lifelong relationship with the publication.
During World War II, Steinberg worked for military intelligence and was stationed in China, North Africa and Italy. During this time, he produced cartoons about the war which were published in The New Yorker. In 1945, published his first book, All in Line. Steinberg also exhibited his work at fine art museums and galleries. In 1946, Steinberg was one of the artists exhibited in the critically acclaimed “Fourteen Americans” show at The Museum of Modern Art. That same year, he covered the Nuremberg War Trials for The New Yorker. He also designed opera sets and was a NASA artist at Cape Canaveral.
Steinberg created one section of the “Children’s Labyrinth” mural at the 1954 Milan Triennial and a panoramic collage entitled “The Americans” for the US Pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. In 1966, he collaged the walls of the Galerie Maeght in Paris with his famous “masks”: brown-paper cut-outs or paper bags on which he drew all manner of faces to disguise himself and his friends. Steinberg’s association with The New Yorker continued for almost sixty years, resulting in nearly 90 covers and more than 1,200 drawings. In 1976 he produced his most famous cover “View of the World from 9th Avenue” (see image above).
Saul Steinberg died on May 12, 1999.
Here is a short film about the life, work, and legacy of Saul Steinberg: