I am reading Mark Morrisson's book The Public Face of Modernism: Little Magazines, Audiences, and Reception 1905-1920. Great book that utilizes the same critical view that is on display in The Oxford History I mentioned earlier.
In the book, Morrisson discusses a Stuart Davis cover for the June 1913 issue of Masses. In this issue, Davis "takes an irreverent swipe at the 'cover girl' convention of the commercial press - 'Gee Mag, Think of Us Bein' on a Magazine Cover.'"
I also read a A Bomb in Every Issue, a history of Ramparts Magazine. In an issue of Women Power in 1968, the cover image featured a women's chest with her head cropped out of the picture. Ramparts' focus on tits over brains was not lost on readers of the period.
A large scale study of the portrayal of women on the cover of little magazines would be a great dissertation topic if it has not been done already. If so, somebody tell me the title and author, I would love to read it.
In the dissertation, there would have to be a chapter on Evergreen Review. For me, the cover images highlight the failures of the magazine, especially Evergreen's decline in the later issues, which for me is marked by the move to the larger format in Issue 32. Evergreen's portrayal of sex, race, drugs, and politics seems to me to be just like the sensationalism and commericalism of magazines like Playboy. The later Evergreen's are less about progressive art and literature and more about hip, counterculture lifestyle. Tom Wolfe made a living pointing out these inconsistencies, like in his book Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers published in 1970. I think a study of the advertising through out the magazine would be very interesting and would bring out more classic Wolfean contrasts.