Exhibition information

The 386th ginza graphic gallery Exhibition Saul Steinberg: Lines that Transform the Real World

December 10, 2021 - March 12, 2022

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Twenty-two years have now passed since the death of Saul Steinberg (1914–1999), one of America’s most-beloved artists. Steinberg is also a familiar name in Japan, and the time is now ripe to rediscover and reassess his art.
 
Steinberg defined drawing as “a way of reasoning on paper.” In sharp, clever lines endowed with humor and satire, he drew the gaps between reality and a mythologized American ideal and ludicrous absurdities, such as the intermingling of old and new, graceful and frenzied, as well as the invisible gaps between them. Visualizing invisible lines, objects, words, and structures, throughout his career he pursued the challenge of transforming meanings and concepts.
 
It seems that Steinberg himself had accepted the ambiguity of his profession, and was named in various ways as “a writer who draws,” as well as “an architect of speech and sounds,” “an artist on the borderline,” and “a draftsman of philosophical reflections”. Constantly crossing boundaries into unknown visual territory, he tried every style and every method of expression, from children’s drawings and adult doodling to classicism, baroque, mannerism, expressionism, cubism, and constructivism.
 
Remarking  that  “I  appeal to  the  complicity  of  my  reader,” Steinberg  encouraged his  viewers  to participate, in order to draw their attention to the irrationality of reality. With such thoughts and ideas as weapons, he created images that transformed the pages of many publications, including the Italian humor newspaper Bertoldo and the prominent US weekly The New Yorker, into forums of art just as distinctly as pictures by Picasso on the walls of museums.
 
This first large scale exhibition in Japan brings together a total of around 280 works, including 62 posters, lithographs, etchings, and woodblock prints contributed by The Saul Steinberg Foundation in New York, seven posters contributed and loaned by the Makoto Wada office, 5 issues of Derrière le miroir from the Galerie Maeght in France, and reproductions of representative works with a focus on drawings.
 
According to exhibition supervisor Mr. Kijuro Yahagi, “Even if most people shown Steinberg’s drawings initially react by laughing at the impossible scenes, they soon become perplexed, halt their thoughts, and are left dangling.” We invite you to experience this sensation for yourselves at the exhibition.

Dates

December 10 (Fri.), 2021 – March 12 (Sat.), 2022
 (Gallery closed for New Year’s holiday from December 28 (Tus.) 2021
to January 5 (Wed.), 2022)

Venue

ginza graphic gallery
DNP Ginza Building 1F/B1
7-2, Ginza 7-chome, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
Tel: 03-3571-5206
Opening hours: 11:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m.
Closed on Sundays and public holidays
Admission free

Cooperation

The Saul Steinberg Foundation, Galerie Maeght, Makoto Wada Office

Supervisor

Kijuro Yahagi

Profile

Saul Steinberg was born in 1914 in Râmnicu S─ârat, Romania. After studying in the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters at the University of Bucharest, he studied architecture at the Regio Politecnico in Milan (now Politecnico di Milano), graduating in 1940. In Milan he actively contributed to the humor newspaper Bertoldo, but fled in 1941 to escape Fascists anti-Semitism in Italy. During the war he served in the US Navy and after the war settled in New York and started producing drawings for The New Yorker. Over the next 50 years, he contributed 89 covers and more than 1200 inside drawings. His intellectual and refined style sparked a revolution in the graphic world, and the realm of fine art (drawing, painting, woodblock prints, collage, sculpture, etc.). In 1946, Steinberg was selected for the “Fourteen Americans” exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, followed by his first one-artist exhibition At the Parsons-Janis Galleries in New York in 1952 and the Galerie Maeght in Paris in 1953. In 1978, he had a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Steinberg: Illuminations, a major traveling retrospective, opened in 2006. His books of drawing compilations include All in Line, The Art of Living, The Passport, The Labyrinth, The New World, and The Inspector. Steinberg influenced many Japanese cartoonists and illustrators, including Fujiko Fujio, Ryouhei Yanagihara, and Makoto Wada.