A special panel of magazine editors have decided the top 40 magazine covers of the past four years, and the selections are a mix of shock and artistry. Here's the top ten:

1. Rolling Stone – Jan. 22, 1981 – John Lennon and Yoko Ono laying in bed
2. Vanity Fair – Aug. 1991 – Nude pregnant Demi Moore
3. Esquire – April 1968 – “The Passion of Muhammad Ali”: Ali with arrows in his body
4. The New Yorker – March 29, 1976 – Drawing of New York from Hudson River and rest of the country to Pacific Ocean
5. Esquire – May 1969 – Andy Warhol drowning in Campbell’s soup can – “The decline and collapse of American avant-garde”
6. The New Yorker – Sept. 24, 2001 – 9/11 – Twin towers drawing in all black against a gray skyline
7. National Lampoon – January 1973 – “If you don’t buy this magazine, we’ll kill this dog” – Man pointing gun at terrified dog
8. Esquire – October 1966 – “Oh my God – we hit a little girl.”
9. Harper’s Bazaar – Sept. 1992 – Linda Evangelista holding up the letter ‘A’ in magazine’s title: “Enter the Era of Elegance”
10. National Geographic – June 1985 – Afghan girl – “Haunted eyes of an Afghan refugee’s fears”

Based on own magazine reading experience, Gothamist would have to say that Fabien Baron's Harper's Bazaar cover ranks at the top, though we're very fond of the two September 11th-related covers (#6 Art Spiegelman's black on black World Trade Center and Maira Kalman and Rick Meyerowitz's New Yorkistan, #14). There are high-res images of the covers here, but nowhere are there credits for who designed, illustrated or photographed the cover; we hope ASME releases that next. [Via AdFreak]

What do you think of the list? We find some of the choices are a little boring (People's black and white picture of Princess Diana, after she died; Nicole Kidman on Vogue), but it makes us realize that mainstream magazines are just that way. And here's a Hint Magazine interview with Baron.