When the magazine’s editor, David Remnick, asked me months ago to think of ways to celebrate our ninetieth anniversary, I knew at least where to start: with the cover of the very first issue, from February of 1925, by the art editor Rea Irvin.
That image, of a “starchy-looking gent with the beaver hat and the monocle,” so effectively established the magazine’s tone that it was published, nearly unchanged, every February until 1994. Later dubbed Eustace Tilley, the magazine’s presiding dandy has since been parodied, subverted, or deconstructed on most of our anniversary covers. Contributions by our artists—and by readers participating in Eustace Tilley contests–have included comic-strip Tilleys, dog Tilleys, tattooed Tilleys, emoji Tilleys, and twerking Tilleys.
To celebrate the fact that we’re entering our tenth decade, we turned, as we do every week, to our artists for ideas, and this time we decided to publish more than one. We picked nine covers for our ninety years, selecting images that reflect the talent and diversity of our contributors and the range of artistic media they use: oil painting for Kadir Nelson and Anita Kunz; pen and ink with watercolor for Roz Chast, Barry Blitt, and Istvan Banyai; oil pastel for Lorenzo Mattotti; collage for Peter Mendelsund; and digital art for Christoph Niemann. Some of these artists are regulars—this is Barry Blitt’s eighty-eighth New Yorker cover and Lorenzo Mattotti’s thirtieth. Others are newcomers. Each brings Eustace Tilley squarely into the twenty-first century, and proves that art is as alive on the cover of the magazine today as it was in 1925.