Saul Steinberg papers
Scope and Contents
- 1417 - 2001
- Majority of material found within 1931 - 1999
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Box 145, folder 2710 (medical records): Restricted until 2046. For further information consult the appropriate curator.
Box 145, folder 2709 (medical records): Restricted until 2061. For further information consult the appropriate curator.
Box 146 (medical records): Restricted until 2049. For further information consult the appropriate curator.
Box 640, folders 7373, 7374, and 7377: Restricted until January 1, 2032. For more information consult the appropriate curator.
Boxes 253, and 635-636 (motion picture film): Restricted fragile material. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.
Boxes 640-643 (sound recordings, audio tapes, and video recordings): Restricted fragile material. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
578.6 Linear Feet ((567 boxes) + 2 rolls, 86 broadsides, 1 record album storage)
Saul Steinberg (1914-1999)
Steinberg graduated from the Liceul Matei Basarab secondary school in 1932 and spent a year in the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters at the University of Bucharest, before applying to the Faculty of Architecture where he was denied admission, likely due to the university’s Jewish quota. After experiencing increasing anti-Semitism in Romania throughout his school years, Steinberg moved to Milan, Italy in 1933 and enrolled at the Regio Politecnico Milan to study architecture. There, Steinberg met Aldo Buzzi and began a lifelong friendship. In October 1936, Steinberg began contributing cartoons to the Italian humor newspaper Bertoldo. In 1937 Steinberg began a relationship with Ada Cassola Ongari (1908—1997). Steinberg continued to correspond with Ada after his immigration to the United States and later supported her financially. In April 1938, Steinberg moved his cartoons from Bertoldo to rival publication Settebello and served on the editorial board. With the adoption of the Italian racial laws in late 1938 which barred Jews from professional fields and higher education, Steinberg was prohibited from publishing his cartoons, though he continued to publish drawings anonymously. The Italian racial laws also ordered the expulsion of foreign born Jews, giving university students an exception until they completed their degrees. Steinberg received his architecture degree in 1940 and began looking for ways to leave the country.
With aid from American cousins and his New York agent Cesar Civita, Steinberg received a visa for the Dominican Republic in July 1940, but failed to receive required transit visas. Civita also helped Steinberg publish his first drawings in American periodicals in March 1940. By the end of 1940 Steinberg was considered an illegal resident and a state-less citizen. He was arrested in April 1941 and sent to a campo di concentramento (internment camp) in Tortoreto. Steinberg secured the necessary visas by June 1941 and immigrated to the Dominican Republic, where he awaited an American visa. While living in Santo Domingo, he published his first drawing in The New Yorker on October 25, 1941. After a year in Santo Domingo, he received his American visa, and arrived in New York in July 1942. In 1943 Steinberg received a commission as an ensign in the US Naval Reserve and his US citizenship simultaneously. Before beginning his service in May 1943, Steinberg met fellow Romanian artist and émigré Hedda Sterne (1910-2011). Steinberg and Sterne married a year later, on October 11, 1944. During World War II, Steinberg was assigned to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and served in China, Algeria, and Italy where he prepared pictorial propaganda against the German front. While abroad he continued to create drawings for The New Yorker, documenting the experience of service men at war. Steinberg was ordered back to the Washington, D.C. OSS office in fall 1944 and continued serving the OSS through the end of his active duty in December 1945.
Steinberg settled in New York where he established himself as a sought-after illustrator for American periodicals and advertising. Steinberg and Sterne were part of a large circle of artists, writers, musicians, publishers, and collectors, including many fellow Romanian, French, and Italian émigrés. Steinberg traveled frequently, including U.S. road trips and yearly travel to Italy and France, where he often stayed for months visiting friends, preparing exhibitions, and visiting his family who settled in France in the 1950s. His travel often included pictorial research for New Yorker features or other commissions. In May 1959, Steinberg purchased a Long Island home in Amagansett which became his refuge from life in New York. Hedda Sterne and Steinberg separated in 1960, but never divorced, remaining close friends until his death. In July 1960, Steinberg began a relationship with Sigrid Spaeth (1936-1996), a German design and photography student. Though they lived together only intermittently at Steinberg’s Amagansett residence, Steinberg and Spaeth maintained a sometimes-fraught relationship until her death in 1996. Steinberg kept residences and studios in New York and Amagansett and continued to produce work through the 1990s. In 1969, Steinberg hired Dutch artist Anton van Dalen, who worked for him as a studio assistant until his death. Steinberg died of pancreatic cancer on May 12, 1999 in New York.
Steinberg was best known for his regular contributions to The New Yorker, including over 80 covers between 1945-1999, but also created textile designs, stage sets, and murals. His most famous work, View of the World from 9th Avenue, was published as a New Yorker cover on March 29, 1976. In 1960, Steinberg began to focus primarily on gallery exhibitions and New Yorker illustrations. His work was first exhibited as part of The Museum of Modern Art’s 1946 exhibition “Fourteen Americans”. In 1952 the Betty Parsons and Sidney Janis Galleries jointly mounted his first solo show and then served as his American dealers until 1981. Steinberg was represented in France by Galerie Maeght which gave him a wide international audience. New York-based Pace Gallery began representing him in the United States in 1981. Steinberg had more than eighty solo shows in the United States, Europe, and South America, including a 1978 retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. His also published compilations of drawings including All in Line (1945), The Art of Living (1949), The Passport (1954), Umgang mit Menschen (1954), The Labyrinth (1960), The Catalogue (1962), The New World (1965), Le Masque (1966), The Inspector (1973), Dal Vero (1983), and Discovery of America (1992). Steinberg worked primarily in pen and ink in his early years, then explored collage, watercolor, oil paint, and wood sculpture, and frequently used rubber stamps and collected ephemera. Steinberg’s work is difficult to categorize and includes qualities of abstract expressionism, pop art, Dadaism, Surrealism, and Cubism. Steinberg’s work includes observations of modernity and post-war America that explore political, sociological, or cultural ideas, often through humor, metaphor and cliché. Other themes in his work include architecture, maps, faux-calligraphy and false documents, urban and small-town life, and art making.
Sigrid Spaeth (1936-1996)
Other Finding Aids
In 2019 the Saul Steinberg Papers were reclassed as YCAL MSS 1053 and processed with a detailed folder level arrangement and box and folder listing. The Saul Steinberg Papers were used and cited in the years prior to their being fully processed using an inventory originally created by the library when the papers were received. During processing the papers were described at the file level to reflect the contents of each file, often to a higher level of detail than the previous listing. Processing notes at the series and subseries level may be useful to researchers who have worked previously with the collection as well as those who want to locate materials cited with reference to the pre-2019 arrangement. Unless otherwise noted in the series and subseries descriptions, the arrangement scheme for the collection was imposed during processing in the absence of a usable original order. Unless otherwise noted, titles were assigned by the archivist and dates and other information added by the archivist are in square brackets. Whenever possible, full names were used within titles to enable keyword searching.
These materials have been arranged and described according to national and local standards. For more information, please refer to the Beinecke Manuscript Unit Processing Manual.
Folder 4898, in Box 367 is empty.
Former call numbers: Uncat MSS 126; Uncat MSS 204; Uncat MSS 179; Uncat MSS 180; Uncat MSS 207; Uncat MSS 232; Uncat ZA file 570
- Angelini, Sandro, 1915-
- Art -- Exhibitions
- Art, American -- 20th Century
- Art, Modern -- 20th Century
- Artists -- United States
- Artists -- United States -- 20th Century
- Artists, American -- Archives
- Ashton, Dore
- Audiovisual materials
- BBPR (Firm)
- Bellow, Saul, 1915-2005
- Betty Parsons Gallery
- Bouché, René, 1905-1963
- Buzzi, Aldo
- Calder, Alexander, 1898-1976
- Caricatures and cartoons -- United States
- Cartier-Bresson, Henri, 1908-2004
- Cartoonists -- United States
- Cartoonists -- United States -- 20th Century
- Cassola Ongari, Ada, 1908-1997
- Chiaromonte, Nicola
- Civita, César
- Clippings (information artifacts)
- Collages (visual works)
- Copy prints
- Cornell, Joseph, 1903-
- Crowther, Prudence
- De Kooning, Elaine
- De Kooning, Willem, 1904-1997
- Drawings (visual works)
- Eames, Charles
- Ephemera (general object genre)
- Exhibition catalogs
- Folon, Jean-Michel
- Frankenthaler, Helen, 1928-2011
- Frazier, Ian
- Galerie Maeght (Paris, France)
- Giacometti, Alberto, 1901-1966
- Guston, Philip, 1913-1980
- Hofer, Evelyn
- Hélion, Jean, 1904-1987
- Illustrators -- United States
- Illustrators -- United States -- 20th Century
- Ionesco, Eugène, 1912-1994
- Lindey, Alexander, 1896-1981
- Luca, Ghérasim
- Magazine illustration -- 20th Century
- Morath, Inge, 1923-2002
- Motherwell, Robert, 1915-1991
- Mouly, Françoise
- Nabokov, Vladimir Vladimirovich, 1899-1977
- New York (N.Y.) -- Intellectual life
- New Yorker (New York, N.Y. : 1925)
- Nivola, Claire A.
- Nivola, Costantino, 1911-1988
- Nivola, Ruth, 1917-
- Pace Gallery
- Paintings (visual works)
- Perelman, S. J. (Sidney Joseph), 1904-1979
- Photographic prints
- Reinhardt, Ad, 1913-1967
- Roman, Lica, 1913-1975
- Rosier, Michèle, 1930-
- Rubber stamps
- Rudofsky, Bernard, 1905-1988
- Saul Steinberg Foundation
- Shawn, William, 1907-1992
- Sidney Janis Gallery
- Simic, Charles, 1938-
- Spaeth, Sigrid, 1936-1996
- Stein, Jean
- Steinberg, Moritz, 1877-1960
- Steinberg, Rosa, -1961
- Steinberg, Saul, 1914-1999
- Sterne, Hedda, 1910-2011
- Van Dalen, Anton
- Whitney Museum of American Art
- Guide to the Saul Steinberg Papers
- Eve C. Neiger and E. Ashley Cale
- 2019 October
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
- 2020-04-20: Series II. Artwork notes updated by Eve C. Neiger.
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