- NYT’s David Brooks: Obama has ‘manhood problem’ in Middle East
- Ted Cruz thanks Obama for denying visas to terrorists
- Survivors recall chaos, fear in Everest avalanche
- General Mills apologizes for ‘right to sue’ confusion, reverses policy
- Dealer wanted in U.S. for art fraud nabbed in Spain
- Easter morning delivery for space station
- Boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter dies at 76
- Probe could complicate Rick Perry’s prospects
- Ukraine, Russia trade blame for eastern shootout
- Obamas head to church on Easter morning
Review: Bair writes bio of artist Saul Steinberg
When New Yorker cartoonist Saul Steinberg was honored in 1974 by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the architect Philip Johnson puzzled out loud over how best to describe him.
Although Steinberg was about to receive the gold medal for graphic art, wasn’t he also a satirist, a painter, a humorist and an architect? After bemoaning the seeming necessity of putting artists into categories, Johnson concluded by saying, “We cannot pigeonhole Saul Steinberg.”
Now Deirdre Bair, the author of well-regarded books about Samuel Beckett, Carl Jung and Simone de Beauvoir, has taken stock of this wildly inventive and original artist in a 600-page volume that marks the first comprehensive biography of Steinberg since he died in 1999 at age 84.
Steinberg was happy to call himself a writer who draws. An architect by training, he delighted in drawing fantastic buildings and cityscapes, including his iconic “View of the World From Ninth Avenue,” the New Yorker cover endlessly parodied since it was published in 1976.
Steeped in the Dada, surrealist and cubist art movements of his youth in Romania and later Italy, Steinberg never lost his off-kilter, intentionally childlike and absurdist view of the world. He peopled his imaginary worlds with animated letters, numbers and punctuation marks; with battle-ax women patterned on his domineering mother; and with a profusion of animals and objects that were his own personal totems yet which resonated with a wide swath of the public.
Even as a penniless Jewish refugee awaiting permission to enter the U.S. at the start of World War II, Steinberg found success selling his offbeat cartoons to the New Yorker. Once he was finally settled in New York, nothing could stop his rapid rise to the pinnacle of the art world, not even his hypochondria, anxiety and lifelong depression.
In “Saul Steinberg: A Biography,” readers learn that Steinberg was a man of insatiable appetites: for women, books, objects and travel. Bair gets bogged down at times in the details _ the endless parties and dinners with art world celebrities; the haggling over commissions and negotiations with publishers; his apartment and studio renovations; and the bitter fights with his lovers. But overall she has done an excellent job of trying to answer the question that perplexed even Steinberg’s ex-wife and lifelong friend Hedda Sterne when she considered his work: “Where did this come from?”
TWT Video Picks
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- USAID documents cite Hillary Clinton in chaos of Afghan aid
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- Russian fighter jet buzzes U.S. Navy destroyer in Black Sea
- EXCLUSIVE: FBI blocked in corruption probe involving Sens. Reid, Lee
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.