In Living Color

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Call up a mental image of bygone America--men in fedoras, women in stoles--and chances are it will be in black and white. We tend to see the past in monochrome, which is why color photographs from long ago can be shocking in their immediacy. In preparing this issue we delved into thousands of color transparencies shot for FORTUNE in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s, and on the following pages we offer some of our favorites, many never before published. Among them are images made by Walker Evans and W. Eugene Smith, both known as masters of black and white. In fact, few realize Smith ever worked in color, while Evans, on FORTUNE's staff for 20 years, dismissed his color images as commercial.

We respectfully disagree. From the beginning, color has been a vital ingredient of this magazine--the shot of Times Square above ran in our very first issue. In 1935 managing editor Ralph Ingersoll told Henry Luce that a set of Campbell Soup photos in a recent issue were "so far--so very far--ahead of anything ever produced before that they took my breath away." They haven't lost an ounce of their power.