on the cover

On The Cover of New York Magazine: Insurrection Day and Its Aftermath

Art: In progress image of Robert Longo’s Untitled (Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol; January 6th, 2021; Based on a photograph by Mark Peterson), 2021. Charcoal on mounted paper, 92 1/2 x 134 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery. Robert Longo and Pace Gallery will make a donation to the Equal Justice Initiative.

New York Magazine’s July 5–18, 2021, issue cover story looks back at the January 6th insurrection and its aftermath, with an excerpt from Michael Wolff’s book Landslide taking readers inside the Oval Office that day, Rick Perlstein on the authoritarian history of the Capitol riot, Mychal Denzel Smith on how the day will be historicized by Trump’s supporters, Talia Lavin on how Ashli Babbitt became a martyr on the right, and Andrew Rice on how Merrick Garland’s Justice Department is approaching the prosecution.

The cover of this issue features a work-in-progress drawing of the Capitol riot by artist Robert Longo. Longo’s piece, which he is in the process of making for his debut exhibition at Pace Gallery on September 10, is based on an image by photographer Mark Peterson (who recently shot New York’s Andrew Yang and Joe Biden covers). “I wanted to depict this scene as performative,” Longo says. “I am shocked by the degree of rage and anger in these insurrectionists, but it is ineffective to dismiss these people as merely Trumpified crazies. Rather, in order to move forward and to better understand, we must consider the origin of this destructive anger and ask ourselves the question: Is it truly possible that we can come together as one country or are we ultimately destined to fall apart as a nation?”

When New York editors set about assembling the issue, they were interested in a cover that depicted the insurrection without relying on a straightforward news picture. “I thought of Robert Longo because of his deep interest in American politics,” says photography director Jody Quon. “And when I called him, it turned out he was already at work drawing this piece.”

This isn’t the first time Longo and New York’s paths have crossed. In 2012, following the release of a New York cover story by John Heilemann and Jonathan Chait on the GOP primary, Longo created a work based on a photograph by New York’s photographer-in-residence at the time Christopher Anderson featuring Newt Gingrich supporters listening to his stump speech at a campaign event in South Carolina.

Robert Longo’s illustration of Newt Gingrich supporters, based on 2012 New York Magazine photograph by Christopher Anderson. Photo: Nick Ash
On The Cover of New York: Insurrection Day and Its Aftermath