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Parrish Art Museum gifted 64 works by Saul Steinberg
Saul Steinberg: Modernist Without Portfolio. Installation View. Photo: Gay Mamay.

WATER MILL, NY.- Terrie Sultan, Director of the Parrish Art Museum, and Patterson Sims, Managing Director of The Saul Steinberg Foundation, announced a gift to the Museum of 64 works from the Foundation’s holdings by the acclaimed artist, famed worldwide for giving graphic definition to the postwar age through the works exhibited nationally and internationally in museums and galleries, and six decades of covers and drawings published in The New Yorker. The acquisition spans 45 years (1945-1990) and features the artist’s signature drawings in watercolor, pen and ink, pencil, crayon, and other media—plus rarely shown work: wooden assemblages, wallpaper, and fabric. Forty-nine works by Steinberg—a Parrish collection artist who lived and worked in Springs, East Hampton for nearly half-century—are featured in the exhibition Saul Steinberg: Modernist Without Portfolio, part of the current overarching exhibition What We See, How We See, a series of seven special exhibitions currently on view.

“We are absolutely thrilled to receive this important and visually magnificent gift of Steinberg’s work and are grateful to our colleague Patterson Sims of the Steinberg Foundation for facilitating this opportunity,” said Terrie Sultan. “Steinberg is a national treasure as well as a pillar of the kind of artistic creativity that makes our community so special. A longtime resident of East Hampton and a citizen of the world, Steinberg has touched the lives of so many. To be able to represent his achievements so substantially at the Parrish Art Museum is an honor.”

The range of objects and styles in the exhibition illuminates Steinberg’s unique perception of the world revealed in quirky abstract portraits, offbeat scenes of quotidian life, animated architectural drawings, and whimsical depictions of birds, cats, and other real and imagined creatures. References to life on the East End of Long Island are clear in landscapes of beaches and farms, and in specific structures like Amagansett Post Office, 1981.

The gift from the Foundation furthers the Parrish’s mission to illuminate the creative process by collecting the work of artists in depth and speaks to its focus on artists associated with the East End of Long Island, New York. The acquisitions afford a rich range of objects and styles and brings the Parrish into the roster of international museums with Steinberg works in depth, including the National Gallery of Art, Washington; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Menil Collection, Houston; and the Morgan Library and Museum, New York.

Saul Steinberg (1914–1999) crafted a rich and ever-evolving idiom that found full expression through his parallel yet integrated careers. In subject matter and styles, he made no distinction between fine and commercial art, which he freely conflated in an oeuvre that is stylistically diverse yet consistent in depth and visual imagination. The son of a manufacturer of decorative boxes, Steinberg grew up in Bucharest. In 1933 he moved to Milan to study architecture and in 1936 began contributing to the Italian humor newspaper Bertoldo. The promulgation of anti-Semitic racial laws in 1938 led him to seek refuge elsewhere, finally arriving in the U.S. in 1942. Through an agent in New York, his drawings had already begun to appear in U.S. periodicals; his first drawing in The New Yorker was published in October 1941.In 1946, Steinberg was included in the critically acclaimed Fourteen Americans show at The Museum of Modern Art, exhibiting with Arshile Gorky, Isamu Noguchi, and Robert Motherwell. In 1959 he purchased a house in Springs, near Amagansett, where he began to spend more time after the mid-1960s. He was embraced by the artistic community and the house became a refuge from his busy New York City life.

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