The Art of Business: Fortune covers of the ’30s
When Henry Luce launched Fortune in 1929, just as a stock market crash triggered the Great Depression, it was meant to be an upbeat celebration of American capitalism.
It was that, but it also advocated social responsibility and featured stunning modernist art on its covers.
In his 2004 book, An Economy of Abundant Beauty: Fortune Magazine and Depression America, Michael Augspurger wrote: “Here is a self-described ‘beautiful’ magazine that devoted itself not to society life or fashion but to the grim world of business and industry in an era of economic disruption and tragedy; a magazine presumed to be a ‘booster’ for business that printed scathing exposes not only of easy targets like the munitions industry but of U.S. Steel and the housing industry and the producers of women’s clothing; a champion of corporate capitalism that acknowledged the right of unions to strike, supported higher wages, and called for federal programs ranging from social security to the Security and Exchange Commission…”
But it’s the design that I love. It would run photographs by Margaret Bourke-White, Walker Evans, and Ansel Adams, and cover art by Thomas Benton, Diego Rivera, children’s book illustrator Walter Buehr, urban realist Reginald Marsh, Art Deco illustrator Antonio Petruccelli, and Russian constructivist Constantin Alajalov.
Artist: Maurice Freed