The Magazine: 15 years in 70 covers

1991. 1. It’s a baby! (Editor: Tibor Kalman)
The birth of a baby girl represented the launching of the new magazine on the editorial panorama. The image, taken by Oliviero Toscani, had already been used for a Benetton advertising campaign and in this sense it also defined the novelty of the experiment: a magazine that, as it describes itself in the first editorial, is founded on a simple idea – diversity is good – “borrowed” from the Benetton advertising campaigns.

1993. 4. Race (Editor: Tibor Kalman)
The fourth issue of COLORS was also the first monothematic issue, a formula that continues today. And the theme could be no other than Race, in the singular of course. Because there is only one race, the human race. An issue that faces the theme of racism in a different, ironic way. But the British, despite their proverbial sense of humor, were angered to see a black Queen Elizabeth.

1994. 7. AIDS (Editor: Tibor Kalman)
For the first time the problem of AIDS was tackled clearly and directly, discrediting prejudices and spreading accurate information on prevention, without being alarmist and with a little irony (like the article about latex fashion). The issue ends with an editorial in which the image of US President Ronald Reagan, victim of the virus, is accompanied by a eulogy for the man he could have been if he had acted differently towards AIDS.

1996. 13. No Words (Editor: Tibor Kalman)
Tibor Kalman’s last issue, a magazine without words and a tribute to the visual vocation of COLORS.

1997. 21. Smoking (Editor: Oliviero Toscani)
An issue all about smoking, in its different aspects: economic, social and religious. And inside a pitiful Playboy-style pin-up showing all the damage that smoking can do to the human body. A document that the World Health Organization still uses for its anti-smoking campaigns.

1998. 28. Touch (Editor: Oliviero Toscani)
The image of a gay kiss introduces the issue on Touch, the most direct way in which people relate to one another. The issue shows that there are cultural differences and taboos relating to touch.

1999. 31. Water (Editor: Oliviero Toscani)
The cover image shows a little boy urinating to celebrate the vitality of water. It was considered pornographic in Switzerland. The commission in charge of inspecting editorial products ordered that all copies of COLORS be removed from newsstands or wrapped in plastic like pornographic material.

2000. 36. Monoculture (Editor: Oliviero Toscani)
A cover that almost made itself. A reject from a series of photos taken years before by Oliviero Toscani for a campaign promoting the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees), representing a bloodstain and that had unexpectedly taken on the shape of Mickey Mouse. What other image could so powerfully have represented the threat of widespread monoculture that COLORS attempts to counteract?

2000. 38/39. Extra/Ordinary fashion (Editor: Oliviero Toscani)
An unusual cover. A fashion photo taken by Patrick Demarchelier for a double issue about fashion. It was also Oliviero Toscani’s last issue. But it wasn’t a contradiction of the magazine’s core values (no news, no fashion, no famous people) rather an anthropological and visual trip through different ways people dress around the world.

2001. 41. Refugees (Creative Director: Fernando Gutierrez)
The issue that launched the new course of COLORS, entirely dedicated to a refugee camp in Tanzania, and produced with the support of the UNHCR. Every photo was taken especially for the issue by the COLORS editorial team and Fernando Gutiérrez gave the magazine a new look. It was the beginning of a series on “communities”. The cover is an original illustration by a refugee who was asked to draw the typical traits of the two peoples at war, Hutu and Tutsi.

2002. 47. Madness (Creative Directors: Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin)
A self-portrait by a patient from the Camaguey Psychiatric Hospital in Cuba is the cover for an issue about Madness. Includes reports from different countries about the living conditions of people with a mental illness. From Belgium where psychiatric patients are housed with regular families, to the Ivory Coast where they’re chained to trees like animals and abandoned outside villages.

2002. 49. Tours (Creative Directors: Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin)
A special format for an issue that wants to be an alternative guidebook complete with addresses and information. Includes the Elf School in Iceland,
the Butter Museum in the Czech Republic and a favela tour in Brazil.

2002. 52. Trujillo (Creative Directors: Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin)
A portrait of Rolando Trujillo opens an issue about just one person. Trujillo lives by himself in remote Patagonia. This issue closes the series on communities showing an extreme one made up of only one person. The issue also confirms that COLORS gives a voice to those who don’t have one.

2003. 53. Slavery (Creative Directors: Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin)
A photo of modern slaves in a mine in India opens the issue, made in collaboration with Anti-Slavery International. It dramatically brings to light a problem that many people think is no longer relevant and shows that slaves still exist and are often closer to home than we think (for example a beautiful mansion in Los Angeles, USA).

2004. 61. Fans (Editor: Kurt Andersen)
This issue opens the new American era, with a new editorial team based in New York. It is dedicated to fans of sports, politics, religion and music.

2005. 65. Freedom of Speech (Editor: Renzo Di Renzo)
The calligraphy graffiti of Tsang Tsou-Choi is featured on the cover. He believes he’s the king or emperor of China. The issue celebrates freedom of expression and words, helping to mark the 20th anniversary of the organization Reporters Sans Frontiers.

2007. 70. Beijing. Stories from a city (Creative Directors: Peng Yangjun and Cheng Jiaojiao)
A special issue on Beijing, realize by two young Chinese Fabrica photographers, to tell, through stories of common people, the transformations that China is going through today.