The Discovery of America

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No sooner had he arrived on American shores in 1942 than Saul Steinberg embarked on an artistic journey of discovery: an exploration, in witty, sometimes disturbing, sometimes hilarious drawings, of this vast and diverse country. Over the decades Americans found themselves - in the pages of The New Yorker and in dozens of exhibitions and collections both public and private - revealed, dis-covered, by an artist endowed with a rare understanding of the national character, a profound appreciation for the uniquely ...
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1992 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Inventory mark on the edge. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 208 p. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

No sooner had he arrived on American shores in 1942 than Saul Steinberg embarked on an artistic journey of discovery: an exploration, in witty, sometimes disturbing, sometimes hilarious drawings, of this vast and diverse country. Over the decades Americans found themselves - in the pages of The New Yorker and in dozens of exhibitions and collections both public and private - revealed, dis-covered, by an artist endowed with a rare understanding of the national character, a profound appreciation for the uniquely American interplay between landscape and culture, and an unsparing eye for the native illusions. Now, for the first time, almost two hundred of these extraordinary works have been assembled in a beautiful collection chosen and sequenced by the artist himself. Journeying through Steinberg's America we encounter that ubiquitous phenomenon, the parade; we visit the distinctive, low-lying small towns that dot the countryside, the canyons of New York, the twenty-four-hour carnival that is Las Vegas. Here are the monoliths of our geography, our banks and post offices; here the Flat Earth, California, street battles, visible noise, handmade pennies, Woman's Liberation, Art, Prosperity, and taxicabs; here the people - cowboys and cowgirls, cultural icons, "monopods," unidentifiable wanderers (Who Are They?) - who inhabit the land; here the biting allegories that lend a new dimension to our hectic political life; here the beloved and well-known images that brilliantly, economically sum up a place and an attitude (e.g., the famous map of the world from the New York perspective); and here, at journey's end, a lyrical watercolor that points the way to a more hopeful future. As the distinguished critic Arthur Danto says in his penetrating introduction to this remarkable collection: "Steinberg is our national treasure, his hand the hand through which the nation inscribes itself in order to discover its true soul."
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In 1942, Steinberg arrived in Miami from Romania. For 50 years, he has been discovering America, then sharing his drawings of cities and small towns and all the subcultures between them. In this collection, which includes over 200 illustrations spanning 40 years of images, many first seen in The New Yorker , Steinberg is Columbus with a pen. If this book is flawed, we cannot blame the artist, who always points the way. Instead, we must look to the lengthy and obtuse introduction by Arthur C. Danto, who has a knack for clumsy sentences and a logic that is his special secret. But this painful introduction does little to detract from the delightful work by Steinberg, whose discovery of America is neither politically correct nor incorrect--just perfect. Recommended for most libraries.-- David Bryant, Belleville P.L., N.J.
Donna Seaman
We've heard a great deal of discussion about whether or not Columbus "discovered" America. If we think of discovery as the act of "making something known," this claim doesn't seem so preposterous. It is this sort of discovery that Saul Steinberg is credited with having achieved over four decades of depicting America in hundreds of stunningly original drawings and watercolors. Steinberg came to America after he was forced out of Romania by the tempest of war and quickly set himself the task of comprehending this bustling and eclectic culture, this land of newly minted symbols and eager cities. His drawings are like crazy postcards or shrewd cartoons, incorporating the edginess of cubism and the fecundity of the baroque. The book's 196 plates reproduce Steinberg's finest work from the 1950s to the present. The only text is a sagacious introduction by art critic Arthur Danto; after that we are immersed in Steinberg's singular moral vision. We see America's absurd energy in exploding urban street scenes populated by striding, long-legged, big-headed people. Then there's the silly solemnity of parades, the curvaceous aggression of automobiles, the boxy huddle of western towns, the loom of skyscrapers, and the angularity of modern art and architecture. Steinberg tinkers with our icons--Uncle Sam, Lady Liberty, Mickey Mouse, and Santa Claus--creating hilariously irreverent images as well as poignant tableaus of pointlessness. From lyricism to irony, Steinberg's America speaks to us all.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679402787
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/6/1992
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 228

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