When I ran across these old 50’s pin-up gals the other day, I couldn’t help but hear some lonely Korean War soldier remarking, “wow, will you look at the gams on this dame!” If these did make it to that war, they came all the way from the advertising pages of America. These classic examples of the mid-century feminine ideal were created by legendary advertising painter Gil Elvgren during his long and successful career. Each image features his original photograph, mocking up the scene to be painted later. His models pose in campy and sometimes awkward positions, doing their best to emulate the scene and demonstrating what must be some of the earliest examples of the dreaded “duck face.”
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Elvgren was one of the most prolific and influential pin-up artists, creating much of his work for Saint Paul, Minnesota based advertising firm Brown & Bigelow. His work with pin-ups began in 1937 and was influenced by the early “pretty girl” illustrators Charles Dana Gibson and Howard Chandler Christy of his youth. He remained very active into the 1970’s producing work for Coca-Cola, General Electric, Sealy Mattress and The Saturday Evening Post.