Time Inc. has announced that it will feature advertisements on the covers of two of their big magazines: Time magazine and Sports Illustrated. This announcement has got me thinking about the evolution and function of magazine covers in general. It can be said that the goal of a magazine cover is to draw attention to the magazine and, possibly, give consumers an impression of the articles it features. However, when going to the local grocery store it can be concluded that many modern magazines feature a very similar formula: a smiling cover celebrity on a white background surrounded by the features of the articles inside. Neither original, nor graphically striking. An exception can be a number of independent magazines or the occasional cover of a newspaper’s magazine supplement.
As a small act of confrontation, I present four artists who saw the magazine cover not as a monthly chore, but as an A4 sized artwork.
The graphic designer: Alexey Brodovitch
Brodovitch (1898-1971) is best know for his artistic direction of Harper’s Bazaar. His magazine work shows that he was both photographer and graphic designer – photographs are subjected to graphic layouts and graphic elements are synced with the themes portrayed in the photgraphs.
The experimenter: Erwin Blumenfeld
Blumenfeld (1897-1969) was known for his dramatic and serious photography. Unwilling to compromise, Blumefeld’s magazine covers show experimentation and a desire for artistic relevance.
The photographer: Cecil Beaton
Beaton (1904-1980) had a flair for the theatrical. His many covers for Vogue and work as the photographer of the British royal family show that photography is not a subjective medium, but a way to build celebrity.
The opinionated: Saul Steinberg
Steinber (1914-1999) takes you into his world, while subtly making a joke or satirical statement. His work seems effortless, fresh and simple. He called himself “a writer who draws”.