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Saul Steinberg

SAUL STEINBERG, the New Yorker artist famous for his map of the self-centered way Manhattanites see the world, was practically a household name in America for the second half of the twentieth century. But in art history he is nowhere. Why? That is a question posed by two current New York exhibitions (neither of which is at an art museum): “Saul Steinberg: Illuminations,” at the Morgan Library & Museum, and “A City on Paper: Saul Steinberg’s New York,” at the Museum of the City of New York, both organized by Joel Smith, curator of photography at the Princeton University Art Museum (the latter show was organized in collaboration with MCNY’s Thomas Mellins).

Well, here’s a theory: Steinberg was behind his time and ahead of it too. In an era dominated by abstraction and expressionism, he emerged as a representational artist—and one with a deep and (for the time, at least) eccentric idea of

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