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Saul Steinberg, MOMA, and the Unstable Cultural Field

Norman, Will (2020) Saul Steinberg, MOMA, and the Unstable Cultural Field. Italian Modern Art, 3 . pp. 1-21. ISSN 2640-8511. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:81093)

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This essay addresses the U.S. cultural field of the late 1940s as an unstable territory in which the protocol for evaluation and judgment of the literary as well as visual arts underwent considerable and radical revision. It argues for the identification of a brief but discrete period lasting from the end of World War II to the closure of the decade, characterized by pronounced uncertainty and tension over what forms and practices should be understood as legitimate. It traces the onset of this moment of instability in relation to modernism, transatlantic exchange, and the institutions of culture, using the particular example of Saul Steinberg (1914–1999) and his relationship to the legacy of Piet Mondrian (1872–1944). Steinberg emigrated from Italy to the U.S. during the war, having been interned as a Jew under Mussolini. A trained architect, fluent in the visual grammar of European interwar modernism, Steinberg reinvented himself in postwar America as an artist and illustrator. Steinberg proved himself exceptionally capable of traversing high and low culture, commercial and restricted fields, by virtue of his ability to negotiate the cultural field. By examining his engagements with Mondrian and the New York art world of the late 1940s, we stand to learn something new not only about him, but about the instability of the field at that time.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Saul Steinberg, MOMA, cultural field, modernism, transatlantic, Piet Mondrian
Subjects: E History America > E151 United States (General)
N Visual Arts > N Visual arts (General). For photography, see TR
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Will Norman
Date Deposited: 01 May 2020 15:22 UTC
Last Modified: 06 May 2020 08:05 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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