Saul Steinberg at Morgan Library

Techniques at a Party, 1953

A truly beautiful exhibition is showing at the recently redesigned Morgan Library. I didn't know much about Saul Steinberg (1914–1999), besides his iconic 1976 New Yorker cover, "View of the World from 9th Avenue." But the show -- and Steinberg's talent -- go well beyond funny cartoons and pretty drawings.

It brings a less known perspective to some of the 20th century's most complex themes: imperialism, our obsessions with money, our ability to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to suffering. It is one of the most touching, effective shows I've seen this year. It's so unaffected, and the new Morgan is really a beautiful space, full of light and warmth. 

An added bonus is that a few of the drawings are ones the New Yorker eighty-sixed, including a drawing of Uncle Sam in a bullring, fighting a Montezuma-like indigenous chief. The description tells us that the chief transformed into a turkey, just in time for the magazine's Thanksgiving cover. That's another thing I like about Steinberg -- he was an artist who didn't apologize for that fact that he had to pay rent. If you live in the New York area or are there for a visit this week, put this show on your list of things to do. It closes Sunday.

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