Janet Maslin (no relation) reviews Deirdre Bair’s Saul Steinberg: A Biography in today’s New York Times:
“No Reading Between the Lines”
In his weekly blog post, The New Yorker’s Cartoon Editor, Bob Mankoff looks at and shows us some of Steinberg’s work:
“Saul Steinberg, Gag Man”
A New Yorker cartoonist, Jerry Dumas, writing for the Greenwich Time, December 12, 2012, focuses on Debrah Solomon’s New York Times Book Review of November 25, 2012, specifically Soloman’s assertion that Steinberg was “…the pre-eminent cartoonist of the 20th century…”
“Most Agree, One Cartoonist was King”
Finally, if you’re in the mood for a little more Steinberg-related reading after reading the above reviews, here’s something from Ink Spill’s archives: A Posted Note I wrote in 2008:
On a Bench with Steinberg
In the fall of 1978 I was fresh out of college, living in a two room walk-up apartment in Greenwich Village just a few doors west of Ray’s Pizza. I’d recently moved to the city with the dream of becoming a New Yorker cartoonist. After receiving an avalanche of rejection slips my work was finally accepted, and by November of 1978 the magazine had published four of my cartoons.
My apartment was in a four story building loaded with talented neighbors: writers, an editor, a graphic designer, an artist, an historian. Among this crowd was the celebrated New Yorker writer, Donald Barthelme; he lived just below me, on the second floor. The day I moved into the building, Donald was the first person I ran into. At the time I’d no idea who he was, and that he wrote for The New Yorker ( my focus then was mainly on the magazine’s artists ). All I remember from our meeting was that Donald’s last name seemed oddly fascinating. Bar- thel – may – it rolled off the tongue.
On a Fall afternoon – I believe it was a Sunday – I was in my apartment when I heard Donald yelling up to me from the building’s courtyard. I raised one of the large old windows overlooking the garden below, stuck my head outside, and looked down. Donald was looking up. “Michael, Steinberg is coming over for dinner tonight – would you like to join us for drinks afterward?”
“Steinberg” was, of course, Saul Steinberg, the legendary New Yorker artist. A retrospective of his work had just completed its run at The Whitney Museum. In April of that year, he was the subject of a Time cover story – this was certainly one of, if not the most celebrated years of Steinberg’s career. He was now 65, into his thirty-seventh year at The New Yorker. The idea of meeting Steinberg was at once impossibly unsettling and electrifying. Although I’d been taking my weekly batch of cartoons to the magazine’s offices in mid-town for nearly a year, I’d never run into any of The New Yorker’s cartoonists: Steinberg would be my first.
Evening came, and from my apartment I could hear the sounds of dinner conversation in the courtyard. Eventually I made my way down to the garden apartment belonging to my ground floor neighbors, the Sales ( Faith, the editor, and Kirk, the historian and biographer).
Steinberg was out in the courtyard, sitting on a bench at an old wooden picnic table. Donald made the introductions, and directed me to sit next to Steinberg. Steinberg spoke “ with his hands” – a lot of arm movement, his hands fairly drawing in the air. It wasn’t difficult to imagine his drawings floating all around us, like bubbles.
After some time, he turned to me and asked what I did. I told him I was a cartoonist, for The New Yorker. “My latest drawing appears right before yours in this week’s issue.” (my drawing was on page 50, his illustration for The Sporting Scene was on page 51). Hearing this, he fell silent for a moment. I couldn’t tell if he was pleased, annoyed, or just didn’t care. It was, well, awkward.
Soon he was back to where he’d left off before speaking to me. He held the spotlight the rest of the evening. I admit I can’t recall a single thing he said that evening, other than his asking what I did. In truth, I don’t think anyone in his company really wanted to do anything but listen, and watch. Sitting to his side for those few hours, turned slightly to my right, seeing his profile, watching him draw in the air, was like watching the sun rise over and over and over again.
September 11, 2008