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Reflections and Shadows Hardcover – July 2, 2002

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From Library Journal

The artist who gave us all those great New Yorker covers reconsiders his life, from impoverished Romania to Mussolini's Italy to Washington, DC, in the Sixties. Buzzi transcribes conversations dating from 1977.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From The New Yorker

It seems fitting that this most sphinx-like of artists should have his memoirs written by someone else. Buzzi, a friend since the two men were students together in prewar Milan, compiled these impressions from conversations recorded in the nineteen-seventies, and the result beautifully conveys Steinberg's aphoristic panache. "Art," says the man who made cartoons into serious art and perhaps philosophy, "precedes technique, just as the smell precedes the cake." Whether describing his childhood in Bucharest, flight from Fascist Italy, or life in America, Steinberg is full of superb anecdotes and quizzical observations, but there remains an evasiveness that reflects unease about the past. Tellingly, he says that he prefers not to revisit old haunts, instead asking friends to go and photograph them for him. On one occasion, he broke his own rule: "I was afraid of spoiling the memory, and I wanted to spoil it. And I succeeded."
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First edition (July 2, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375505717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375505713
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,550,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By mojosmom VINE VOICE on November 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Published after his death in 1999, this is a meditation based on a series of interviews of Steinberg by Buzzi. Beginning with his childhood and youth in Romania, through his wartime experience in Italy and his maturity in the United States, Steinberg muses with an acute visual sense, appropriate for an artist. The book is illustrated with his drawings.

His ideas about influences on art are insightful. as he describes early photographers "inspired by the paintings of Delacroix and Ingres", to his thought that Bacon "clearly derives from the Polaroid". I was intrigued by his suggestion that the use of industrial paints in American art occurred because of poor artists used cold-water flats as studios, "and to make them livable they had to scrape and paint the walls, doors and windows, and floors . . . and this led them to work on a large scale, to use industrial paints, such as gold or silver on radiators, new materials". His description of the New York City taxi cab of the `40's as created out of Cubist elements, of the automobile influenced by Constructivism, Cubism, and "Fernandlégerism" makes one look at cars in a whole new light.

The title, Reflections and Shadows, comes from a section in which he discusses how what one sees in reverse in a reflection (in a mirror, in water) or shadow is often better - sharper, more intense - than the original. "If you look only at the reflection, and not at the reflecting part, you see a gratuitous reality that exists for you alone. For fun I throw a stone into the upside-down landscape, and seeing that the lower part moves I almost expect the upper part to move too."

If I quoted all my favorite parts of this book, I'd be typing almost the entire thing, so you'll have to go read it for yourself!
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Format: Hardcover
The autobiographical musings of a New Yorker cartoonist told to his old friend, and filled with wit, humanity and philosophical gems. Stories of escaping from the fascist police in Italy, too lazy to brutally arrest people at the usual invisible ungodly hour. Or civic life in 1950s Washington, and the charming people who knew exactly how to be courteous and to dismiss those who didn't belong. Or the poor white in kentucky, like protagonists out of American fiction, whereas the bourgeoisie, respectable people, "always the same". And Magritte's discovery of multiple sources of light in a painting (sun, streetlamp, electric light inside a house, the moon, reflections of light. Or American gastronomy, in which "the taste of the nation are governed by the tastes of children".
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Format: Hardcover
This is the delightful little memoir of Saul Steinberg,

translated from the italian by John Shepley. Its great value

is that it is the closest we will ever come to reading

the work of one of America's great literary talents.

Now it's become a pretty commonplace observation that

Steinberg is as appropriate a nominee for the literary

hall of fame as he is for the graphic artists'. This is

the little book that seals the deal. It turns out that

Steinberg's aphoristically-turned phrases are as clear and

concise as his drawings. This book is sadly, all he wrote.

Steinberg did not intend this to be a personal disclosure-

he is a man who had his memoir written by somebody else. And

yet, it turns out that the very tightness of phrasing gives

the man away. What did he learn of Milan when he was there?

Not much. "My chief interest then was girls. .I was looking...

.to find myself through love."

There are a few drawings here, all of them small and printed

just well enough to make you wish they were printed better.

If you are amoung the unconverted and want to catch examples

of his drawing see the wonderful exhibit at the Morgan

Library in New York or one of the great collections

(my favorite is Passport). But for true believers, Reflections

is Steinberg's literary love song, a book that puts him in the

company of Borges.

--Lynn Hoffman, author of THE NEW SHORT COURSE IN WINE and

the forthcoming novel bang BANG from Kunati Books.ISBN

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Format: Hardcover
A small autobiographical book of Steinberg.
This is a great small book of Saul Steinberg's work/pictures/illustrations, about his life and impressions.
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