From the age of 16 when the Russian Revolution scuttled his university education, until 25 when he had his first New Yorker cover published, CONSTANTIN ALAJÁLOV (1900-1987) whirled through an array of jobs in Russia, Persia, Turkey & New York, ranging from sign painter to portrait painter to court painter, engaging everything from poetry illustrations to murals.

Judging from the signature, and the highly geometric flavor of Alajálov's early New Yorker covers (he called them "cubist"), this semi- abstract watercolor was executed within a year or two of 1924, when he was still struggling after his arrival in New York.

Alajálov was the only artist to have painted covers for both The New Yorker and The Saturday Evening Post, somehow managing to overcome their apparent agreement of mutual exclusivity. One of Alajálov's last covers for The Saturday Evening Post, "Listening in" typifies the artists later stage, when his carefully crafted cartoons satirized the foibles of American life. When I met him in 1984, the artist was a refined and patrician figure, with reason to be proud of a rich body of work in fine illustrative art.

-Roger T. Reed