Saul Steinberg (American, b. Romania, 1914–1999) Untitled (Braque), 1964 Pen and ink and graphite Gift of the Saul Steinberg Foundation; 2014.63
© The Saul Steinberg Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Powell & Co. (American, act. Philadelphia, 1860s)
Anti-Slavery Constitutional Amendment Picture (draft), 1865
Albumen print portraying executive and legislative
supporters of the abolition of slavery in the United States
Purchased on the Charina Endowment Fund; 2019.66

Ashford Brothers & Co. (English, act. 1862–67)
The Great Sensation Card: One Thousand Portraits of Living & Historical Celebrities, ca. 1865
Albumen print carte de visite
Purchased on the Photography Acquisition Fund; 2019.62


I think of this group as being about swarms and the way that on one hand, language can swarm in your head, or one word can lead to another in such rapid succession that suddenly you're many steps away from where you begin. That's what I like about the Steinberg drawing as well as the, the way that one thing leads to another in a way that feels both logical and utterly logical at the same time. There's even a point in this drawing where writing turns into drawing, it just turns into shapes, it turns into scribbles, and then it comes back into kind of what we would call sense.

The other kinds of profusions in this group cross quite a few categories. We have discarded vegetables and Tim Davis's photograph. We have a collection of politicians in the 13th Amendment photograph, and we have celebrities collected in a tiny, tiny, tiny Carte de visite. The irony here, to me being that if you collect a lot of really famous people in one place, suddenly none of them seem very famous. They all seem just like a group of people all over again.