Saul Steinberg’s Wonderful Places

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Children's Labyrinth, 1954. 10th Milan Triennial, detail of History of Architecture section of mural.

Children’s Labyrinth, 1954.
10th Milan Triennial, detail of History of Architecture section of mural.

Saul Steinberg‘s illustrations combine whimsy with art, creating mini-worlds that are clean and simple but at the same time lead the eye to someplace happy and bright.

Like a refined dose of Dr. Seuss, Steinberg prefers to draw realistically, turning typical scenes into magical places where the trees stretch up taller than the buildings – a small detail that makes our world seem more like a simply designed amusement park where thrill and wonder fill the air.

His work for the New Yorker explains all the scenes of the city, but I prefer the imaginary “Children’s Labyrinth,” drawn as part of the History of Architecture section of a mural. On the left sits a log cabin surrounded by the stumps of the trees those logs used to be. The most beautifully detailed tree stands next to the little building puffing smoke; the tree’s branches take delicate curlicue shapes as they expand just like the smoke beside them.

 

See more of Saul Steinberg’s work online at the Saul Steinberg Foundation Gallery

I Do, I Have, I Am, 1971. Ink, marker pens, ballpoint pen, crayon, gouache, watercolor, and collage on paper, 22 3/4 x 14". Cover drawing for The New Yorker, July 31, 1971. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.

I Do, I Have, I Am, 1971.
Ink, marker pens, ballpoint pen, crayon, gouache, watercolor, and collage on paper, 22 3/4 x 14″.
Cover drawing for The New Yorker, July 31, 1971.
The Saul Steinberg Foundation.

Untitled, 1948. Ink on paper, 14 1/4 x 11 1/4". Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Untitled, 1948.
Ink on paper, 14 1/4 x 11 1/4″.
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

View of the World from 9th Avenue, 1976. Ink, pencil, colored pencil, and watercolor on paper, 28 x 19". Cover drawing for The New Yorker, March 29, 1976. Private collection.

View of the World from 9th Avenue, 1976.
Ink, pencil, colored pencil, and watercolor on paper, 28 x 19″.
Cover drawing for The New Yorker, March 29, 1976.
Private collection.

Untitled, 1974. Ink, colored pencil, and collage on paper, 14 1/2 x 19 1/4". Originally published in The New Yorker, July 22, 1974. The Saul Steinberg Foundation.

Untitled, 1974.
Ink, colored pencil, and collage on paper, 14 1/2 x 19 1/4″.
Originally published in The New Yorker, July 22, 1974.
The Saul Steinberg Foundation.

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