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At "Fortune" the artist has always belonged in the world of work. During ks early years, founding editor Henry Luce and his staff commissioned many of the twentieth century's greatest painters and illustrators to adorn the covers of his new business magazine. Artists...
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At "Fortune" the artist has always belonged in the world of work. During ks early years, founding editor Henry Luce and his staff commissioned many of the twentieth century's greatest painters and illustrators to adorn the covers of his new business magazine. Artists like Diego Rivera, Ben Shahn, Ralston Crawford, and Ernest Hamlin Baker documented modern industrial civilization on each "Fortune" cover.
These artists captured more than the assembly lines and smokestacks of industry. Fortune: The Art of Covering Business" celebrates many of the century's great commercial and artistic achievements.
Posted June 1, 2001
Henry Luce, the cofounder of Time Magazine, decided to launch Fortune after the market crash in 1929. He priced it at a dollar a copy (about ten dollars in today's currency value), and set out to make it the best possible magazine. In the publisher's eyes (as taken from an advertising brochure), American business 'has importance -- even majesty -- so the magazine . . . will look and feel important -- even majestic.' ' . . . [E]very page will be a work of art.' Luce went on to say, '[T]he new magazine will be as beautiful as exists in the United States. If possible, the undisputed most beautiful.' Early staff members often later became famous poets and authors (such as Archibald MacLeish and James Agee) who worked just enough to earn a living, and then went back to their poetry. Luce found it easier to teach poets about business than to teach those who knew about business how to write. The essays contain many rewarding stories. One of the best is how Thomas Maitland Cleland designed the first cover by sketching it upside down on a tablecloth in a speakeasy for the editor, Parker Lloyd-Smith. The original tablecloth, complete with drawing, is still mountained in the Time-Life building. Some of the famous cover artists included Diego Rivera and Fernande Leger. In those days, the cover was independent of the stories in the issue. The cover was simply to attract attention and to encourage thought. If you remember early Saturday Evening Post covers by Norman Rockwell, you will get the idea. By 1948, the vision changed. Luce wanted Fortune professionalized. The new concept was for 'a magazine with a mission . . . to assist in the successful development of American business enterprise at home and abroad.' By 1950, the artful covers were gone. Now I must admit here that I found the covers displayed to be primarily of interest as reflecting social attitudes toward business. So I found these images to be like Monet's Gare St. Lazare, except without the appeal of Monet's technique. Frankly, the art did not move me or appeal to me except for one Leger cover. Perhaps the art will speak more to you. I graded the book down one star accordingly. A value to me in this book was stopping to think about how much business has changed in the last 71 years, since Fortune was founded. That was 'before Social Security, . . . the sitdown strikes of the thirties, . . . the creation of the SEC.' ' . . . [D]isclosure requirements for public companies were virtually nonexistent.' As a result, companies didn't tell anybody anything. So it was a pretty bold idea to write about business. Contrast that with out information overload of data about every possible business and economic angle. What a difference! How much time do you spend obtaining business information now? How can that be reduced while increasing your effectiveness? Perhaps, like the Fortune art, you can get an overview that will connect with what needs to be done . . . and found a great American business in the process like Fortune Magazine did. When was the last time a bunch of 20-somethings started a new business that featured art andWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.