Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Constantin Alajálov: George Gershwin's Song-Book

Even if you're familiar with Constantin Alajálov's exceptional work for the New Yorker and the Saturday Evening Post, the artist's illustrations for George Gershwin's Song-Book (1932) come off as strikingly original and unexpected. Here's a generous sampling.

Constantin Alajálov, Dust jacket, George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932


Dust jacket flaps, George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932
http://www.ebay.com/itm/George-Gershwins-Song-Book-1st-in-Dj-1932-Jazz-Rare-in-Dust-Jacket-/321326867588?pt=Antiquarian_Collectible&hash=item4ad092e484



Table of Contents, George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932
http://www.ebay.com/itm/1932-George-Gershwins-Song-Book-Constantin-Alajalov-Russian-artist-signed-1st-/191183950430?



Samuel M. Kootz on Constantin Alajálov, George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932
http://www.ebay.com/itm/1932-George-Gershwins-Song-Book-Constantin-Alajalov-Russian-artist-signed-1st-/191183950430?
Swanee
Constantin Alajálov, "Swanee," George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932

Nobody But You
Constantin Alajálov, "Nobody But You," George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932

I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise
Constantin Alajálov, "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise," George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932

"I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise" for voice and piano, George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932
http://www.ebay.com/itm/1932-George-Gershwins-Song-Book-Constantin-Alajalov-Russian-artist-signed-1st-/191183950430?

Do It Again
Constantin Alajálov, "Do It Again," George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932
http://www.ebay.com/itm/1932-George-Gershwins-Song-Book-Constantin-Alajalov-Russian-artist-signed-1st-/191183950430?

Fascinating Rhythm
Constantin Alajálov, "Fascinating Rhythm," George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932
Oh, Lady Be Good
Constantin Alajálov, "Oh, Lady Be Good," George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932


Somebody Loves Me
Constantin Alajálov, "Somebody Loves Me," George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932

Sweet and Low Down
Constantin Alajálov, "Sweet and Low Down," George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932
Image replaced June 16, 2014

What's this? My guess is that this colorful but cropped image of the illustration for "Sweet and Low Down" is from a modern reprint of the songbook. The rich color suggests that the full palette of Alajálov's artwork may not have been reflected in the original edition's reproductions. The cropping no doubt was done to eliminate the offensive blackface caricature on the left side of the illustration, something that was regrettably commonplace in the 1930's and is unpalatable today.
"Sweet and Low Down" [cropped]
"Sweet and Low Down" for voice and piano, George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932


That Certain Feeling
Constantin Alajálov, "That Certain Feeling," George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932

The Man I Love
Constantin Alajálov, "The Man I Love," George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932

"The Man I Love" for voice and piano, George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932
Clap Yo' Hands

Do, Do, Do
Constantin Alajálov, "Do Do Do," George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932

Constantin Alajálov, Original artwork for "Do Do Do," George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932

My One and Only

'S Wonderful
Constantin Alajálov, "'S Wonderful," George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932
Constantin Alajálov, "'S Wonderful," George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932

Strike Up the Band

Liza

I Got Rhythm
Constantin Alajálov, "I Got Rhythm," George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932
http://www.ebay.com/itm/George-Gershwins-Song-Book-1st-in-Dj-1932-Jazz-Rare-in-Dust-Jacket-/321326867588?pt=Antiquarian_Collectible&hash=item4ad092e484

Who Cares?


Constantin Alajálov, Alajálov paints Gershwin, George Gershwin's Song-Book, 1932







Note:  By now this blog has had quite a lot to say about the artwork of Constantin Alajálov and not quite so much on the music of George Gershwin.

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