The Discovery of America by Saul Steinberg
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. First edition. Hardcover. 208 pages : illustrations ; 28 cm. Very good copy; no underlines or markings within the pages. Satisfaction guaranteed!
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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