With venues in six cities across the world, Pace Gallery seems to have easily found a seventh home online. For Imagined Interiors, one of the gallery’s inaugural Online Viewing Room exhibitions, independent curator Michaëla Mohrmann mounted a solo exhibition of drawings, photographs, and collages by Romanian-American artist Saul Steinberg that depict architectural interiors and the accumulation of domestic objects.
“My purpose is to transform an idea that I had into a drawing. I am not so preoccupied by the outside world,” Steinberg once admitted. “I’m preoccupied with my own inside world.”
Steinberg, who trained as an architect in 1930s Italy, often depicted the domestic interior as a place of productive boredom, where one keeps busy arranging and intermixing prized belongings with temporary junk. The artist often neglected to draw the bounding box of the room, allowing the objects to define the limits of the interior. The few renderings of cityscapes are animated by interior furnishings scaled up to impossible degrees. For instance, Chest of Drawers Cityscape (1950) fashions a clothing organizer into a skyscraper with little embellishment, in a gesture that either expands the interior or shrinks the outside world.
Several of the works on view present the interior from the perspective of cats, for whom the home or apartment encompasses an entire planet. In Looking Down (1988), for example, a cat peers out the window of a minimally furnished apartment to gaze at the frenetic city below. Even the bare contents of a desk, viewed from the perspective of a home-bound observer, can appear as dense and as dynamic as a city center. “In modern times, the divide between private and public spheres is porous,” the exhibition description reads, “making the critical distance of cat-like artists perhaps indispensable.”
Altogether, Imagined Interiors offers a distillation of the artist’s contemplative adoration for the interior, as a place both intimate and potentially limitless in its contents.
The Online Viewing Room can be visited at this link.
Header image: Saul Steinberg in 1978. (Evelyn Hofer)