On the occasion of the New York presentation of QUEST, Journal in Contemporary Jewish Issues published by the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation in Milan (CDEC), this special event will present Mario Tedeschini Lalli’s research on Saul Steinberg’s Italian years, featured in the journal’s current issue.
Introduction: Sheila Schwartz (executive director, The Saul Steinberg Foundation)
Speakers: Mario Tedeschini Lalli (journalist and author of the first research on Steinberg's Italian years), Cristiana Facchini (historian and editor of the current issue of Quest: "Modernity and the Cities of the Jews")
Moderator: Alessandro Cassin (Centro Primo Levi)
Mario Tedeschini Lalli is a journalist and scholar of contemporary history. After many years in print journalism as a reporter and an editor, mostly covering foreign affairs, he went digital in 1997. He has been managing editor of Repubblica.it, CNNitalia.it, and Kataweb.it, where he also led a small team experimenting with multimedia narratives, all within the Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso, of which he is now Deputy Director for Innovation and Development. He teaches History of Journalism at Universita' Roma Tre, in Rome, and Digital Journalism at the Istituto per la Formazione al Giornalismo, in Urbino. His scholarly publications include essays on the history of the Middle East, Italy, and the media. He is presently working on a lengthy essay about Saul Steinberg's service with the OSS during World War II.
Read Mario Tedeschini Lalli’s full article in Quest
The aesthetic persona of Saul Steinberg (1914-1999), who became one of America’s most beloved artists, began to take shape in Milan during the 1930s. Steinberg arrived there in 1933 to study architecture, having left his native Romania and its virulent anti-Semitism. In 1936, while still an architecture student, he started contributing gag cartoons to popular Italian humor newspapers and soon became renowned for his clever visual wit. These first years in Italy, which he would later remember as a “paradise,” turned rapidly into “hell” in 1938, with the institution of racial laws that deprived him of income, a profession, and a legal residence. Forced to live as an unwanted “foreign Jew” and unable to obtain the visas necessary to leave Italy, by late 1940 he was under threat of imminent arrest; a few months later, he spent several weeks in an internment camp before finally managing to flee the country. This crucial period in Steinberg’s biography has until now remained largely unknown because of Steinberg’s own reluctance to discuss it. (from article's Abstract)
[Image: Steinberg at his drawing table in his room above the Bar Il Grillo, Milan, 1930s. Credit: The Saul Steinberg Foundation]