PRINT Summer 1978

Saul Steinberg’s “Written” Pictures

For D.L. G.

SAUL STEINBERG’S WORK HAS remained for a long time on the periphery of the world of art, although just inside its frontier. His is the kind of work that artists would know about and admire, but that would be thought too idiosyncratic to have much pertinence as art. Then, too, the literary people would know about it, but they would tend to treat it as a species of narration in which literary irony is a principal technique, in which the “image” only incidentally takes real visual form, and in which line streams out of the pen hardly differently from a flow of words.

Steinberg really is, in one sense, an illustrator rather than a plastic artist pure-and-simple. Not merely so, however, since his “illustrations” are not subordinate to a “text,” even his own. Besides, in a post-Cubistic way, his drawings confidently subsume words as objective motifs into pure drawn art. Steinberg is,

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