Gil Elvgren’s Pin-Ups In Real Life
by: Kate Messinger
September 19, 2012
Looking through Gil Elvgren infamous pin-up girl portraits, it’s hard to imagine these women, with their perfectly curled hair, seemed stockings and risque poses, as real people and not imagined, idealized symbols of the era. But Elvgren’s work, a collection of more than 500 pin-ups from 1930-1972, are drawn from real, posing models, a photo manipulation of their time. Like Bettie Page brought the pin up paintings of that time to life, these photographs of Elvgren’s pin-ups bring the paintings back to reality.
Though the paintings themselves seem to portray an ideal version of the black and white photograph with thinner middles, bigger breasts and longer legs, the faces of the pin ups have taken on a personality that is separate of the models. These characters Elvgren created for national brands like Coca-Cola became a staple for the sexualized American woman and seeing them in their original form, as real women, shows a different perspective of his work. Almost 90 percent of Elvgren’s paintings, from both his pin-up calendars and ad campaigns, have been compiled in the book “The Great American Pin Up“, but the original photographs of the models have only recently begun to be collected and matched with their paintings.