400 Commerce Drive
Fort Washington, PA 19034
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Original Illustration Art circa 1890-1970

Constantin Alajalov

(American- 1900-1987) biography  |  subscribe to this artist

Biography

 

Constantin Alajalov sold his first cover to The New Yorker magazine in 1926, and continued to paint a long and colorful series of satirical vignettes of American life for both The New Yorker and The Saturday Evening Post until 1962.

    Alajalov was born in the Russian town of Rostov-on-the-Don. The Revolution came when he was seventeen and a student at the University of Petrograd. He survived this period by working as a government artist, painting huge propaganda pictures and portraits, and in 1921, he made his way to Constantinople, which was an international refugee haven.

    Although largely self-taught as an artist, Alajalov earned a precarious living by sketching portraits in bars or painting sidewalk advertisements for movie houses. He progressed to doing murals for night clubs, taking mostly food as payment. After two years of this, he saved enough to pay his passage to America.

    Once here, Alajalov resumed painting murals, in Russian night clubs, and within three years had sold that first New Yorker cover. For the rest of his career, he continued to give us a candid and humorous look at our foibles.