Tuesday, 1 May 2007

100 Years Of Magazine Covers

100 Years Of Magazine Covers
Steve Taylor's 100 Years Of Magazine Covers is an international survey of a century of magazine covers, from the first issue of Punch to the latest issue of Modern Toss. The book is divided into five thematic chapters.

The first chapter discusses the magazine cover as celebrity portraiture. An Andy Warhol self-portrait for his own magazine Interview is included, alongside Annie Leibovitz's iconic image of John Lennon and Yoko Ono for Rolling Stone.

Chapter two covers reportage and politics, from the reverential (Picture Post's dignified image of Winston Churchill) to the satirical (a savage Richard Nixon caricature by Ralph Steadman for Rolling Stone, and Harold Wilson on the cover of Private Eye). The scope of this chapter is far too large, though, and although it covers (American) politics quite well, there is very little room for war reportage.

The next chapter is devoted to fashion magazines, including Elle, Vogue, i-D, and Dazed & Confused. Fashion magazines from the 1960s dominate this chapter, alongside a survey of contemporary style titles such as Another Magazine. There are only a few Vogue covers represented, though the magazine deserves much more extensive coverage.

The penultimate chapter concerns cultural movements (such as feminism, civil rights, and gay rights) and youth subcultures (including punks and hippies). This chapter's main focus is underground and fanzine titles like Oz and Sniffin' Glue.

Finally, the last chapter looks at magazine covers as graphic design objects, including some wonderful 1980s typography from The Face and bold 1970s covers from Time Out. Four pages devoted to eleven cover reproductions of Fast Company in this chapter seems highly excessive.

The only previous book to present a history of magazine covers is David Crowley's Magazine Covers. Crowley's book has 100 fewer pages than Taylor's, though it does have an index whereas Taylor's doesn't. Crowley presents double-page spreads on each magazine, organised into the same chapter themes as Taylor. Taylor has more of a pedigree (he has worked for The Face and Arena; his book is introduced by The Face's art director, Neville Brody), though Crowley's book has more historical scope. Both books are dominated by superb illustrations, with minimal text, though Crowley's writing is more detailed.

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