TIME’s latest signature NFT initiative, called Slices of TIME, features nearly 4,000 TIME covers from the past century. Every year since Henry Luce and Britton Hadden founded TIME in 1923 is represented in 99 original artworks, produced by TIME Creative Director D.W. Pine.
Each piece includes “slices” of TIME covers from that year showing the transformation of one of the world’s most iconic brands and showcasing the variety of artists and photographers that have filled the red-bordered canvas.
The Slices of TIME project also invited 38 artists to participate, each selecting a meaningful year to illustrate, while partnering with another artist to imagine 100 years into the future.
For example, Brooklyn multidisciplinary artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya selected 1965 to honor the year the Hart-Celler Immigration Act was enacted – an event which she says led to her being born. Amanda partnered with bicultural, transdisciplinary artist Laura Anderson Barbata, who imagined 2065. Barbata, who depicted how our interconnected lives will weave the future, says “the fabric of our society, made up of these beautiful communities, as seeds planted by those who came before, growing wildly with freedom.”
In all, the artists represent 17 countries and every discipline.
Nine of the artists in the project have previously been commissioned to do a TIME cover, including photographer JR, Brian Stauffer, Alessandro Gottardo, Harry Campbell, Yulia Brodskaya, Eiko Olaja, Jill Pelto, Peter Arkle and Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya.
Other featured artists include Charlotte Abramow, Virginia Mori, BT, REO, Florian Tappeser, Carlos Luna James, Dave Krugman, Mike Szpot, Zhuk, GuliyevNow, Showdeer, Toppy Eton, Pablo Stanley, Mariana Pedroza, Oveck Reyes, Paola Monaris, Claire Giordano, TJ Huff, Drift, Idil Dursun, Waheed Ahmadzai, Geregamo, Colin Egan, Vinnie Hager, Gabriel Bianchini, and Raul Munoz.
The Slices project also surfaces historical design changes and the work of notable artists throughout the decades. The first three years (1923-1925), the covers were all black-and-white charcoal portraits set within a distinctive hand-drawn scroll. It wasn’t until 1926, that Luce and Hadden started experimenting with a border color. They first tried green and orange, as the 1926 Slice of TIME reveals. The following year, beginning with the Jan. 3, 1927 cover, the iconic red border was first used and has remained to this day.
Other distinctive years of note in the project:
1928: Charles Linbergh was TIME’s first Man of the Year and also featured the first use of a color image – an illustration of the new Emperor of Japan on the Nov. 19 cover.
1938: The first year when all the cover images were in color, including color photographs of Bette Davis, Orson Welles and Frank Capra. Also, the cover design changed from the scroll to nine inner cascading lines and the logo was updated to a thinner typeface – a look that lasted until 1950.
1940s-60s: It was around this time the editors started implementing “corner slashes,” which were additional headlines in yellow or red boxes that highlighted stories inside the issue.
The covers of the 1940s, 50s, 60 were predominantly painted by three artists known as the “ABCs” – Boris Artzybasheff, Ernest Hamlin Baker and Boris Chailipin. The trio painted more than 900 covers during that period.
1951: Cover template started to become simplified with only three inner boxes
1953: The cover image first filled the entire cover canvas for images, which was fully realized two years later when the entire cover as the content
1965: Painter Marc Chagall did a self portrait, which appears in the middle of the Slices piece. Chagall was one of three artists who created self portraits for the cover – artist Robert Rauschenberg (1976) and musician David Byrne (1986). The year also featured the first of five TIME covers created by Andy Warhol (“Teenagers” on Jan. 29, 1965, the fourth slice from the left). Also, cartoonist Charles Schultz created his first of two TIME covers, introducing the Peanuts to TIME’s readers.
1968: Roy Lichtenstein did two covers this year (RFK and the Gun in America; recognizable by his large dot pattern style). The year also marked the removal of the phrase “The Weekly Newsmagazine,” which had lasted more than 40 years. Artists Jacob Lawrence and David Levine also created covers.
1969: Pop artist Peter Max created a portrait of Prince Charles; American graphic designer Milton Glaser produced two covers; and Louis Glanzman painted his 30th TIME cover, a painting of astronaut Neil Armstrong taking his first steps on the moon.
1970s: The decade featured bigger headline type and lots of vibrant colors
1977: The TIME logo changed to a thicker typeface and the introduction of corner flaps
1981: The TIME logo was outlined in white to help set off from the color imagery, which lasted for most of the 80s
1992: The TIME logo was greatly enlarged (as you can see in the middle of the year)
2001: To mark the events of 9/11, the red border was changed to a black border – the first time since 1927.
2009: Pentagram redesigned the cover, making the logo smaller and introducing “skyboxes.” It also marked a period of covers featuring white backgrounds, which managing editor Rick Stengel felt gave the cover a more modern feel. The “skyboxes” lasted a few years until settling into the cover template seen today
2017: Slices artist Brian Stauffer produced a cover on the uranium underground
2018: Slices artist JR did the first of his two TIME covers. The artist traveled to three U.S. cities, photographing and documenting 245 people over five months, to assemble a mural from separate photographs of every participant, each with a distinct view on firearms. The year also featured a different cover border – one using 958 red and white light drones flying overhead to create the TIME cover.
2019: Slices artist Alessandro Gottardo reimagined The Next Space Race
2020: Slices artist Jill Pelto created a TIME cover featuring a graphic chart in watercolor on the effects of climate change and Yulia Brodskaya produced a portrait cover of Princess Diana made of paper quilling.
2021: Slices artists Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya (We Are Not Silence), Peter Arkle (Rethinking Work), Eiko Olaja (We’ll never Be the Same) and Harry Campbell (Davos special issue).
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