STEIG, WILLIAM. 1907-2003. Original maquette for The Agony in the Kindergarten,

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Lot 121
STEIG, WILLIAM. 1907-2003.
Original maquette for The Agony in the Kindergarten,

Sold for US$ 12,575 inc. premium
STEIG, WILLIAM. 1907-2003.
Original maquette for The Agony in the Kindergarten, 222 pp, drawn and annotated in ink and pencil, with typed slips pasted-in for front-matter, in commercial black card sketch book stamped "Sketch Book" to upper cover, 240 x 185 mm, [New York, ca. 1950,] with earlier pencil and ink versions of the published work, heavily annotated by Steig indicating placement of images and captions.
WITH: 69 loose finished drawings for the book (plus five photostats), ca. 1950, ink, graphite and/or color pencil, various sizes, five drawings signed ("Steig" or "W. Steig") and most with printers' marks, some wear and discoloring.
Published: The Agony in the Kindergarten, New York: Duell Sloan and Pearce, 1950.
Provenance: William Steig, the artist; by descent.

MAQUETTE AND FINISHED DRAWINGS FOR ONE OF STEIG'S MOST IMPORTANT ADULT BOOKS. This archive traces the evolution of Steig's wonderfully dark The Agony in the Kindergarten, his often disturbing exploration of the little traumas of childhood. "Despair is the human condition," he told The New York Times in 1972. "I always felt that something went wrong and it was my business to find out what happened." The maquette shows the placement of each image and caption within a 222-page sketch book of earlier versions of the published art (with a few stats), the whole copiously annotated by the artist. The additional 69 finished childlike drawings and photostats formed much of the published book; and discarded sketches may be found on the versos of some of the final art. The commentary is typed below nearly all of these designs. The text that appears opposite the pictures in the book comprises common insensitive and often cruel remarks adults make about children ("That brat needs a good spanking," "Shut up!," "What the hell does she want now"). "They're not actual people," Steig explained, "they're character traits," representing the fears and anxieties of early youth. Steig supplied a quote from William Blake to serve as the book's motto; and his brother Arthur provided the foreword in verse in the manner of Blake ("Who gave him shame?/They who were lame;/They taught their pain/All over again"). The author dedicated the book to controversial psychiatrist Dr. Wilhelm Reich, who Steig said saved his life. "... the surreal drawings of The Agony in the Kindergarten were perhaps [Steig's] most brilliant breakthrough into a purer kind of art, but his representations of childhood have always implied a continuity with adult experience; children are not a zoo of entertainingly exotic creatures but an array of mirrors in which the human predicament leaps out at us" (John Updike, "Introduction," The World of William Steig, 1998, p. 6). Ironically Steig's childhood was the happiest period of his life; and he often looked back to those early days when creating his popular prize-winning children's books. Includes a copy of the first edition of the book.
Contacts
STEIG, WILLIAM. 1907-2003. Original maquette for The Agony in the Kindergarten,
STEIG, WILLIAM. 1907-2003. Original maquette for The Agony in the Kindergarten,
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