Epoca: pictures from the world
The narrative feature of the articles, the abundance of anecdotes and colourful details, the short psychological portraits of the characters, the brief and provocative captions, but especially the large amount of space dedicated to photos: these are the techniques used by American magazines Look and Life, which acted as a model for a whole genre. It is illustrated journalism, genre that is imported in Italy for the first time through the weekly magazine Epoca, published by Mondadori and launched in 1950 with an editorial staff that included journalists like Biagi, Del Buono, Spadolini and Zavattini.
Epoca distinguished itself from the start thanks to the choice of quality paper, abundant use of photo sessions and employment of new printing machines. This was a significant leap in quality from a graphic point of view and aimed to offer “at each page the pleasure of newness”.
Under the direct hand of Arnoldo Mondadori, Epoca became The weekly magazine of an industrially advanced European country – it tended to present itself as pro-American in foreign affairs and moderately conservative in domestic issues - and succeeded in affirming itself especially thanks to its humble and colloquial tone that is a little romanticised and amply illustrated.
The cover of the first issue of Epoca had a photo of Liliana De Mario, a nineteen-year-old clerk at the Motta ice-cream stand in Milan’s Piazza Duomo. Many pictures, still in black-and-white, were used with the purpose of documenting a “protagonist of our time.” This kind of journalism aimed at revealing the country to itself, before the advent of the television as popular media.