Pace Gallery, Seoul, now presenting work by artist Saul Steinberg until the end of the month

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Pace Gallery, Seoul, now presenting work by artist Saul Steinberg until the end of the month
Influenced by Dada, Surrealism, Cubism, and Pop, Saul Steinberg’s varied output reflects the defiant humor, curiosity, and modernist attitude of an artist trying to make sense of the chaotic postwar period. Courtesy Pace Gallery

SEOUL.- Pace recently opened an exhibition of work by Saul Steinberg at its arts complex in Seoul. Running from March 31 through April 29, the show brings together works on paper and wood sculptures conveying the defiant humor, curiosity, and modernist attitude of an artist trying to make sense of the chaotic postwar period. This exhibition, which marks the artist’s first presentation in Seoul, will focus on his unique, worldly perspective, which was shaped by his experiences as an immigrant in America, a New Yorker, and an observant traveler both within and outside of the US.

The Romanian-born artist emigrated to the United States from Europe in 1942 during World War II. In New York, he became an integral part of American Modernism. He married the artist Hedda Sterne, who was already connected to the city’s pioneering artists. Establishing himself in New York’s avant-garde community, he earned critical acclaim for his inventive drawings, prints, paintings, collages, and sculptures, which defied easy categorization by reflecting a multiplicity of artistic styles, rendered with characteristic intellect.

Steinberg became best known to the public for his drawings in The New Yorker. Among his most famous images for the magazine was the March 1976 cover known as View of the World from 9th Avenue, which wryly comments on the solipsism of New Yorkers by depicting the majority of the United States as a thin strip of land sandwiched between the Hudson River and the Pacific Ocean.

Influenced by and engaged with the aesthetics of Cubism, Futurism, and Surrealism, Steinberg’s art often explores visual and philosophical paradoxes, while offering oblique commentary on the state of culture and society. Among the works included in the upcoming exhibition in Seoul are the works on paper Abidjan (1973), Cairo (1974), and Nebraska (1966), which meditate on the absurdities and contradictions underpinning daily life and societal norms.

Steinberg’s identity as an émigré is reflected in many of his works. The American Corrida (c. 1981), which will be on view in the upcoming show in Seoul, depicts a duel between Uncle Sam and a figure wearing traditional Native American dress.
Onlookers to the spectacle include Abraham Lincoln, a bald eagle, and the Statue of Liberty.

In addition to the works on paper, Pace’s exhibition in Seoul will showcase a rarely exhibited Table sculpture by Steinberg. With Summer Table (1981), a mixed media collage on wood, the artist engaged with the history of trompe l’oeil and foregrounded his interest in the poetic possibilities of everyday objects, including carved replicas of paint brushes,notebooks, and a range of banal items that accumulated on this worktable and in his domestic surroundings. This playful yet intricate sculpture can be understood as a portrait that captures the inextricability of Steinberg’s expensive practice and daily life.

Also included in the show is the sculpture U. S. Post Office (1984), for which Steinberg situated a mixed media, three- dimensional rendering of a post office atop an elevated wooden base. In Steinberg’s hands, a seemingly mundane, bureaucratic structure is imbued with an ineffable, surrealistic sense of whimsy.

Saul Steinberg (b. 1914, Râmnicu Sărat, Romania; d. 1999, New York) produced drawings, sculptures, photographs, and collages that continue to elicit critical contemplation. Having studied architecture in Milan, he fled wartime Italy in 1941 and became an American citizen two years later. Influenced by Dada, Surrealism, Cubism, and Pop, Steinberg’s varied output reflects the defiant humor, curiosity, and modernist attitude of an artist trying to make sense of the chaotic postwar period. Marked by a self-aware wit, his work embraces double meanings and philosophical content expressed through graphic means. Widely celebrated for his contributions to The New Yorker, Steinberg’s art became an exploration of social and political systems, language, and art itself.

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