Monday, November 7, 2011

William Steig: artist, cartoonist, writer, mensch

Famed artist/New Yorker cartoonist William Steig's keen insight into the foibles of the human race was accompanied by a warmly humanistic point of view and the ability to convey an idea or emotion with the utter simplicity of line that denotes genius. As fellow cartoonist Edward Sorel writes,
Like Picasso, whom he revered, William Steig was an artist of change, continually moving from one stye to another, but always in the direction of the more spontaneous. Late in life Steig regarded any kind of drawing that required tracing or preliminary sketches an unwelcome labor. Only “free drawing” brought him joy.
"A self in love"
The “King of Cartoons” began writing children's books at age 60, eventually racking up 40 titles (including Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Doctor De Soto, Amos & Boris, Brave Irene, Gorky Rises, Dominic, When Everybody Wore a Hat, and Shrek!, which means “fear” in Yiddish). There is truly a treasure on every page of The Art of William Steig, a beautiful, hefty book that brought me (and my partner, who tried to wrest it away from me) hours of pleasure. Stein is also liberally represented in another of our great-gift-idea titles,  The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker. 

One of many 'New Yorker' covers
"Family reunion"
Stein's wife thought of this image from 'Abel's Island' as the artist's self-portrait

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