NotBlueAtAll

I'm just a fat gal with a blog and an opinion. Well, lots of opinions.

Art History: The American Pin-Up (NSFW)

December18

While some may view this particular genre of art as nothing more than vulgarities and perversion, it all began with illustrators and painters looking to perk-up a depressed nation.

At the turn of the century Victorian and family values were the norm. Women dressed in petticoats and corsets, covered from head to toe, left the glimpse of an ankle for men to become overwhelmed with sudden thoughts of eroticism. There were no “girlie mags” to keep them warm. It wasn’t until the 1920’s and the emancipation of women to bring out the flirty and certainly more fun side to the light of day. While magazines and books with any provocation or mention of s-e-x were confiscated. Yet during this time Greek and Egyptian revival were popular and thus art followed. The museum world saw a rush of images of “Grecian maiden in diaphanous robes or innocently emerging from ornate pools covered only by a strategic lily pad. If the figures were of Greek or Roman mythology, the public was historically and safely removed from the contemporary temptation.” *

It wasn’t until John Held Jr. brought the comic face of the tenuous flapper to the public eye.  Judge, Life and College Humor fervidly published their magazines with flappers and bathing beauties on their covers. Publishers of “pulp” magazines such as Spicy Detective, Weird Tales and The Mysterious Wu Fang, regarded the more risqué covers as a way to sell their issues to an eager public. Many nudist magazines began to feature the art of pin-ups but often compromised quality for quantity; most saw them simply as lowbrow and second-rate due to this.

held-jr-life-cover 300px-flapperstamp-celebrate_the_centurypatterson-pinup

Later big calendar publishers began using the new art form as an important part of their marketing as the popularity in mechanic garages grew strong. Even “Esquire magazine in the Depression brought a monthly relief from the bad economic outlook with morale-boosting centerfolds.”* This gave Esquire the ability to attract more established artists and later their own resident illustrators.

petty-blonde-gear-model

WWII turned the pin-up into not only legend but an industry. Many GI’s featured not only the silver screen sirens of the day but many pin-ups in their lockers. When they returned as veterans of war, most just wanted to settle down and raise families. During this time, paperback books became the place to find your pin-up du jour due to paper shortages and the need for cheap and pocket-sized reading material. Even respectable literature like William Faulkner, could often be accompanied by a cover featuring the “gams” of a scantily clad “dame.”

patterson-yellow-bikinibrundage-weird-tales-cover

bolles_filmfun-bikerbabebergey-tattle-tale

monroe-moran-spanishmoran-spanichmoran-spanish

(Above: A certain Norma Jean -aka “Marilyn Monroe” posing for Earl Moran)

It was the sexual revolution of the 1960’s that brought the art of the pin-up to its knees. Baby boomers preferred photography of live models or completely nude magazines such as Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine. Nude magazines became the popular mainstay of the risqué. Gone were the blushing beauties and their flirty gazes. The humor was eventually sucked out of the genre all together with more serious or devious looks being preferable to young men of the late 60’s and early 70’s.

1960-playboyplayboy-1970playboy-1970-2

playboy-1982playboy-1993playboy-2006

With the 1980’s came a backlash against the sexual revolution and a return to the “golden age” of “family values” with the Reagans in the white house. Censorship laws were changed and re-established and while the 90’s saw an uptick in the porn industry (with the help of the new internet) the art world that once included the pin-up turned it’s back on something that seemed old fashioned by this time. Except for a certain underground movement that celebrated the style and worship that was pin-up.

art-frahm-bus-stop-ielvgren-umbrella    elvgren-redhead-laying

petty-redhead-phonesunny-skies-posters-armstrong  armstrong-toastofthetown

Rockabilly, steam punk and the introduction of “Suicide Girls” (from the popular web site) have brought back the “Bettie Bangs”** and many fashions from the late 40’s and early 50’s. You can often see reproductions of popular pin-ups in tattoo form on the arms of modern retro-vixens. Leaning more toward the 1950’s style, you can even find web sites of modern-day would-be pin-ups (self-proclaimed or otherwise) reinventing the pin-up style with a more revealing yet still flirty look.

rockabilly-galsrockabilly-pin-up   modern-pinup   pinup-tattoo

 

No one knows what the future holds. Many pop-art or pop-surrealist artists feature wide-eyed or juicy-lipped maidens in their work. Some even go for the gusto such as Miss Van in her many (if not more sullen) ladies. We can only wait and see.

miss-van-deary-girlmiss-van-ice-cream-gal

miss-van-licking-girl

missvan-circus

*quoted from “The Great American Pin-Up” Charles G. Martignete/Louis K. Meisel.

 **Yes, I realize I have not mentioned the recently departed and most iconic pin-up girl of the 20th century, “Bettie Page.” While Bettie certainly has a special place in my heart, I did not feel that she fit within the framework of this post as she was more of a photographed pin-up rather than an illustrated one. She certainly played a large role in the overall popularity of the genre and has become a legend in her own right. I could do an entire post dedicated to her legacy (and might if requested or if it tickles me). For now I leave you with my faves of the pin-up world:

petty-girl-gun-readhead martini-bw-pinup

Be Sociable, Share!
posted under Uncategorized
7 Comments to

“Art History: The American Pin-Up (NSFW)”

  1. On December 19th, 2008 at 3:18 pm Stephanie Stiavetti Says:

    Great post!

  2. On January 4th, 2010 at 6:18 am Reseller Hosting Says:

    Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

  3. On January 6th, 2010 at 5:48 pm admin Says:

    Thanks so much for reading and commenting! =0) I appreciate the feedback, always.

  4. On March 24th, 2011 at 3:31 am NotBlueAtAll » Blog Archive » Art History: The American Pin-Up (NSFW) « cherryblossomsfalling Says:

    […] http://www.notblueatall.com/archives/art-history-the-american-pin-up-nsfw/ […]

  5. On March 24th, 2011 at 3:31 am NotBlueAtAll » Blog Archive » Art History: The American Pin-Up (NSFW) « cherryblossomsfalling Says:

    […] http://www.notblueatall.com/archives/art-history-the-american-pin-up-nsfw/ […]

  6. On March 31st, 2011 at 10:31 am jessamina Says:

    Love this great post…Having fun reviving the pinup-era and bombshell mentality w/my clients..Doing my part to “perk-up a depressed nation!”

  7. On March 31st, 2011 at 10:35 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Awesome! Happy to share!

Email will not be published

Website example

Your Comment:

 
Subscribe to my feed