Saul Steinberg on art and philosophy in 1967

Saul Steinberg

Saul Steinberg called himself a “writer who drew” and worked with some of the biggest brands of the 20th century.

At work, I nearly fell down a Wikipedia rabbit hole but stopped myself at Saul Steinberg. The reason I even got there was because I was looking up Slash from Guns N’ Roses and discovered he was named after the artist (Slash’s real name is Saul Hudson and he was born in Hampstead, London if you didn’t already know).

Saul Steinberg was born in Romania in 1914. He studied architecture in Milan and started cartooning for humorist newspaper, Bertoldo, in 1936. Anti-semitic laws in Italy forced him to leave and he fled to the Dominican Republic in 1941. He stayed there for a year waiting for a US visa but his cartoons were already well known by the time he entered the country. Many of his drawings had featured in The New Yorker.

After World War II, his work cropped up in more popular publications such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. His name was included in the “Fourteen Americans” show at MoMA and he embarked on an illustrious career. In 1967, he was the subject of a documentary called Saul Steinberg Talks.

Here’s a quote from early in the documentary

I think it is very important for people to run away…from home, from the mainstream, from their family, from the culture, from the society that produced them…because the moment I have to learn something new, like new habits, new languages, I myself have something like a rebirth. I reduce myself to the lowest denominator and this is very healthy for an artist. To start all over again.

Steinberg was a deep thinker and one of the greatest artist of the 20th century. His legacy now lives on through The Saul Steinberg Foundation, in accordance with his will.

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