Preparatory drawing for cover illustration for New Yorker magazine (never published).

%C2%A9 The Saul Steinberg Foundation %2F Artists Rights Society %28ARS%29%2C New York

Florida, 1964

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A toothy alligator goes for a stroll with his pink flamingo honey. He needs a cane, but she seems fine in stilettos. It’s a lovely moonlit January evening along the Gulf coast of Florida, and the palm trees add to the romance. They are walking their little pelican, who contentedly carries a fish in its bill. A variant of this drawing was reproduced as the cover illustration of The New Yorker, January 16, 1965.

The scene looks pretty good from up here near the 45th parallel, but Steinberg may want us to look more deeply—to think about the privilege of the powerful alligator, who has it all and keeps us little pelicans on a leash. In 1970, Steinberg said of the alligator’s crocodile cousin:

“But this son-of-a-bitch is vicious, has terrific teeth, is a great swimmer, and, on top of it, he’s armored. So he got everything… Just like the crocodile, power has too many advantages—it swims well, it has terrific teeth, and it’s armored. It’s inevitable with power that it’s corrupt and wicked.”

Details
Title
Florida
Artist Life
1914–1999
Role
Artist
Accession Number
78.58
Provenance
The artist, New York; (Galerie Maeght, New York & Paris); sold to MIA, 1978.
Curator Approved

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Preparatory drawing for cover illustration for New Yorker magazine (never published).

© The Saul Steinberg Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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