A 1970’s image of a bicycle was so rare in US media that I clipped and collected every one I could. That would be absurd today but this early habit brought me an appreciation for New Yorker magazine cover art. They’re a throw back to an earlier time when original art was created for covers rather than the splashy newsstand bait that today’s covers have become.
For over 90 years, New Yorker covers have celebrated the changing seasons of nature, culture, and national events. More than their share feature bicycles and I began collecting these (with the help of Richard Sachs, similarly smitten). To date, there are at least 100 such covers, many are among my favorite cycling images of all time. Collectable all. Last week’s (May 7, 2018) cover, Biking in the Rain by Jean-Jacques Sempé is a wonderful addition to this charming tradition. New Yorker covers can be bought here.
This latest issue profiles Sempé, my all-time favorite cartoonist. He has done 111 covers for New Yorker and, at 85, lives and works in Paris. His art, especially NY covers, has been a lovely background theme to my life. Like a musical tune that captures a time and place, his renditions seem timed to my career.
In 1979, this cover showed a pair of tandem riders scooting through the countryside with knowing aplomb.
Six months after that cover my wife and I were married and honeymooned on our tandem. In 1983, Sempé drew Cycle Shop for the cover. Wheelsmith was our crowded workshop in Palo Alto. His image captured perfectly the context, the customer, and the mechanic.
So, caps off to this gifted artist and the timeless style of New Yorker magazine.