Christina Malman was born in Southhampton, England in 1912. When she was two year’s old she moved to New York City, where she lived and worked for the rest of her life. Christina began her career as a cover artist for the “New Yorker” magazine in the mid 1930’s. Over the course of twenty years, she designed numerous covers, 34 of which were actually published by the New Yorker.  She also drew more than 500 “spot” illustrations, many of which were used in the “Goings on About Town” section of the magazine.

Christina’s work was known for its good-natured yet satirical view of New York City dwellers. This particular cover, which was designed in 1939 but never used as a cover, clearly displays this sentiment. In fact, it’s what drew me to her. Five birds painted in lively colors stare down from a tree at seemingly industrious members of the Audubon Society, all of whom are busy looking through field glasses, scribbling notes, pointing and generally thinking themselves to be quite superior. Christina skillfully flips this notion on its head by placing the birds in the foreground, high above the crowd. The birders are not so much observing as being observed. In other words, they are far less important than they think. Her use of color to convey meaning is quite clever. The alert birds are bright and vibrant with blues and reds and yellows while the birders, looking every which way but at their winged friends, are much more subdued in black and white. The social commentary she makes in this drawing is astute and her light-hearted drawings elegant.

Christina’s last cover for the New Yorker was published in the March 11,1956 edition of the magazine. She died in 1959.

Leave a Reply