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Saul Steinberg celebrated the home as a ‘cocoon for creativity’

A virtual exhibit provides a glimpse into the New Yorker cartoonist’s depictions of interiors

Saul Steinberg, Untitled (Train Passengers), 1952
© The Saul Steinberg Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Legendary Romanian-born artist and cartoonist Saul Steinberg was famously known for depicting New York City street life for The New Yorker.

His most famous work is probably the “View of the World from Ninth Avenue,” which graced the magazine’s March 29, 1976 cover and gently poked fun at Manhattanites’ myopic view of the rest of the globe past the Hudson River. The ubiquitous poster is, as this blog post describes it, an illustrated depiction of novelist John Updike’s idea that “the true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.”

But Steinberg’s body of work wasn’t just confined to New York City and its outdoor environs. A new virtual exhibit from Pace Gallery, on view online until May 3, offers a glimpse into his depictions of interiors, something that many New Yorkers have become all too familiar with in the past month. The exhibit showcases Steinberg’s photographs, drawings, and collages that, according to the gallery, center on “domesticity and the nature of interior spaces as ideal sites for introspection and creativity.”

Saul Steinberg “Looking Down”, 1988
© The Saul Steinberg Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The exhibit, curated by Michaëla Mohrmann, includes images of Steinberg in his home in Amagansett, New York, as well as an audiovisual experience with a violin composition from Charles Louise Ambroise Thomas’s “Gavotte” from the Mignon opera, referenced in one of his drawings.

One of the works featured is “Looking Down,” in which Steinberg shows the view from a New York high-rise apartment, suggesting that “our private existence indoors—no matter how far up a tower—is never fully removed from the rhythms of the city,” according to Mohrmann.

“The drawing’s key insight is prescient: even when secluded in our homes, we, New Yorkers, remain fundamentally interconnected, for better or worse,” she added.

Though Steinberg was fascinated by New York City life, where he lived from 1942 until his death in 1999, his works, as shown in the exhibit, not only explore this city, but his childhood in Romania, vibrant still life compositions, and his interpretation of the inevitable blur between indoor and outdoor spaces.

Saul Steinberg, “Chest of Drawers Cityscape,” 1950
© The Saul Steinberg Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Saul Steinberg, Untitled, c. 1950
© The Saul Steinberg Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Saul Steinberg, Untitled, 1981
© The Saul Steinberg Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Saul Steinberg Swiss Still Life, 1988
© The Saul Steinberg Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Saul Steinberg: Imagined Interiors will be on view at Pace Gallery’s online viewing room until May 3.