Josefa Vaughan counts among her blessings the close friendship she had with art historian Leo Steinberg (1920-2011) during the last twenty years of his life. The photographs seen here, taken in his New York apartment, show in intimate detail the remarkable space in which Steinberg worked and lived. The tiny Rodin hand, held in Steinberg’s own hands, was a gift from someone at the Rodin Museum in Paris. The countless books and pictures had the patina of years of their owner’s chain smoking — and yes, that is his collection of cigarette lighters on the windowsill. In describing this place, the word “tactile” comes constantly to mind.
For Josefa, this apartment was a place for long discussions, exchange of ideas, take-out food delivered late at night, and the aforementioned tobacco smell. Leo Steinberg was a generous host who also received some of Josefa’s friends and family, even offering Josefa a place on his couch when she was in New York. After he died, Josefa asked his long-time secretary if she could send a few of Steinberg’s personal effects: a pair of glasses, the redolent vest he wore while he was writing, and so on. So, this exhibition is meant both as a memory of a friendship and as a modest tribute to an extraordinary gentleman whose eloquent words continue to help explain the art of our time as well as that of some of the greatest masters of the past. –Charles Boone
Josefa Vaughan is the Founder and Executive Director of San Francisco-based ArtSeed. She has been an exhibiting artist for more than three decades and a teacher for more than two. She has lectured at the San Francisco Art Institute, San Jose State University, the University of California at Davis, the University of San Francisco, and Stanford University. The artist is a Djerassi Resident Artists Program alum, has been commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission to produce permanent public art, and has numerous awards and exhibitions in the U. S. and abroad to her credit.