May 22, 2012
Steinberg at the Bat
Saul Steinberg is well-known to some as a cover-artist for the New Yorker magazine. In 1976, he drew the famous "View of the World from 9th Avenue" cover of the magazine, showing "Manhattan’s telescoped interpretation of the country beyond the Hudson River." By his death in 1999, Steinberg had drawn nearly 90 covers and over 1,200 images for the magazine which sponsored his entry into the US in 1942.
In 1955, Steinberg focused his talents on baseball in a spread for Life magazine. As a Romanian immigrant, Steinberg did not grow up with baseball.
Steinberg began his study by buying 18 books on the subject. Having learned where home plate was, he proceeded to the scene of action. The stadium looked enormous. Inside heroes and villains contended under the eyes of old men called managers who dressed like kids with birds on their chests. But the one Steinberg found the most impressive was the catcher in his corrugated armor.
Steinberg also accompanied the Milwaukee Braves on a roadtrip in study of the game. After the games, Steinberg "timidly entered the clubhouse, shook each players hand reverently and left quietly." He then went home and created each work while wearing catcher's gear.
The art takes on many different styles, though they all clearly belong to Steinberg. From the thick, colorful lines of "All-American Arena" to the bare lines of "Boredom on the Bench" and the Picasso-esque images in "Three-Headed Crouch at the Plate" and "Message from the Manager", Life's "Steinberg at the Bat" is worth checking out. There are many more images available in the article, including probably the three most impressive pieces Steinberg did.