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Photograph of Steinberg Drawing Projected onto Hedda Sterne Tilting Face

Charles Eames, Saul Steinberg

c. 1950

This portrait is one of a series in which Ray Eames and Hedda Sterne were photographed with a Saul Steinberg drawing of a woman in Victorian-style jewelry projected onto their torsos. The Steinbergs spent time with the Eameses during a two-month stay in Hollywood in 1950, and these images speak to their shared interest in wide-ranging experimentation. The project also reflects Steinberg’s ongoing interest in the complexities of identity, a theme that emerged in the work of many American artists in the postwar period. But as Harold Rosenberg observed in a 1978 exhibition catalog of Steinberg’s work, the artist was less interested in particular individuals than in social types, investigating “the theater of Abstract Man, Mr. Anybody (and his wife), in their countless poses, self-disguises, and self-creations.” In this instance, Steinberg disguised Ray and Hedda—both leading modern painters—as staid Victorian models. The Eameses shared Steinberg’s interest in masks. They began collecting masks from around the world in the 1940s, and in 1950 designed a range of oversized animal masks for children and adults, which subsequently made appearances as props and decorations in photo shoots, exhibitions, and staged rooms.

  • Medium:Photograph
  • Dimensions:5 x 4 in. (12.7 x 10.2 cm)
  • Item:A.2019.2.1624