Kitchen Street, 1954

Colored pencil, gouache, and ink on photograph, 11 x 14″Private collection© The Saul Steinberg Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

There are a lot of architecture critics out there. Just about everybody is one. Some of the best, like Saul Steinberg, never designed a building.

If you know of Saul Steinberg (1914-1999), it’s most likely for his iconic View of the World from 9th Avenue.


Saul Steinberg, View of the World from 9th Avenue, 1976

Ink, pencil, colored pencil, and watercolor on paper, 28 x 19 in. (71.1 x 48.3 cm) Private collection Cover drawing for The New Yorker, March 29, 1976 © The Saul Steinberg Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

It’s a shame that most people who’ve heard of Steinberg are familiar with only this image.

My favorite works of his deal with buildings, towns, and cities.

He graduated as Dottore in Architettura from the Milan Politecnico in 1940 but as a Jew he was not allowed to practice.


 

Anyway, he said “The study of architecture is a marvelous training for anything but architecture.”


Architecture Magazine did a cover story on Steinberg after his death and here is some of what Peter Blake wrote:

“Almost everything that has been said and written about architecture during the past forty years was said much better, much more clearly, much more amusingly, much more incisively and much earlier by this extraordinary artist, and without the use of a single word…Saul was by far the most brilliant architecture critic in the United States in the past half century…When Saul wanted to tell you that a building looked silly, he would draw it to look silly. When he wanted to tell you that a building looked sexy, he would make it look sexy. When he wanted to make it look “postmodern” he would make it look goofy.

He never built any of his architectural projects, alas, but everyone else did – whether they realized it or not.”

 

Check out some of his buildings:

 


Cincinatti Greyhound, c. 1980Pencil and colored pencil on paper, 10 ¾ x 14 in.Private collection© The Saul Steinberg Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 


Untitled, c. 1970 Ink on paper© The Saul Steinberg Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Seattle Projects, 1981Watercolor, ink, colored pencil and foil on paper, 22 x 30″Private collection © The Saul Steinberg Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 


Untitled, 1951-52

Ink on paper Originally published in The New Yorker, January 26, 1952 © The Saul Steinberg Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Bauhaus Street, 1982

Ink, pencil, and colored pencil on paper, 19 ½ x 25″ Private collection © The Saul Steinberg Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Thank you to the Saul Steinberg Foundation for kind permission to show these to you.


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