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History Of The Pin-Up Girl

Updated on April 6, 2012
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Originating in the 1890's , Pin up girls became very popular in the 1930s when the image of beautiful women began to flourish. Famous faces like Betty Grable, Carole Lombard and Mae West adorned the calendars and advertisements that were printed and given to American G.I.'s during the war. Burlesque actresses and performers used pin up advertisements on post cards to gain popularity among their fans.

One could often fine them pinned to mirrors, wedged in the joints of gas burners or laid upon the porcelain cast-case waiting for another visitor to pick up a beautiful pinups business card.

From the mid 19th century into the 20th century female caricatures were created with women doing 'ordinary' things, like the famous Gibson girl drawn respectfully by Charles Dana Gibson. Calendars and advertisements were created with eroticism giving way for artist to use there imagination unlike actual photos of famous faces, that were captured in the generation prior; thus giving way to the pin up girl .

Symbolic about her new found feminism, it would also give way to how she felt about her own sexuality. Every man's fantasy these women were drawn and photographed, being placed on calendars and posters and sold for entertainment purposes. Esquire magazine featured the Gibson girls' and became quite famous for the Vargas girls.

During the war the drawings were transformed into women playing dress-up in military uniforms and drawn in sensually seductive forms. The Vargas girls were so popular during WWII that 9 million copies of Esquire magazine were sold without advertisements to American troops overseas and domestically for free of charge.

Famous trained illustrators like Rolf Armstrong and Gil Evgren some of the most technical and absolutely exquisite pinup girl artist created beautiful artwork for matchbooks, magazine covers and calendars which were donned with beautiful pinup art. The pinup girl continued to gain momentum and popularity through the 1950s. Movies were created and most actresses in the 50s became pinups before they came onto the silver screen. Marilyn Monroe was a pinup before and after she became a star. Glamorous and beautiful she was one of Earl Moran's favorite models to sketch. Magazines began to feature the artists who created these bathing beauties; thus making them a household name.

By 1960 the pinup girl had plunged into another dimension. Pinup art began to become inappropriate in the sea of 'Free Love', exploiting the wholesomeness of beauty into the fast lane of nudity. The public became more fascinated with nudes then with creativity and beauty, losing the true meaning of its birth.

Today pinup is nothing like the original form it had been meant to be. Created by artograph, projector, 3-D art design or traced photograph, the creativity of the pinup girl is almost extinct. Rarely do you find an artist who can actually draw or paint a pinup girl by hand.The vast majority of pinups today is not supported by years of talent or hardwork; but by the churning of technology and replication. The artists who created the pinup in the last generation are really a hard group of talent to follow.

#5/30

© March 2012. Sole property of the author *No copying or duplication without written consent from the author.


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Do you believe the pinup girl is a lost American Art form?

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    • AEvans profile imageAUTHOR

      Julianna 

      6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      dobo700: I agree. They surely have. :)

    • dobo700 profile image

      dobo700 

      6 years ago from Australia

      How things have changed over time.

    • AEvans profile imageAUTHOR

      Julianna 

      6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Didge: Thank you very much! Glad you enjoy the History of The Pin-Up Girls

    • Didge profile image

      Didge 

      6 years ago from Southern England

      I really enjoyed your hub AEvans

    • AEvans profile imageAUTHOR

      Julianna 

      6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      sumoraja: Glad you enjoyed! :)

    • profile image

      sumoraja 

      6 years ago

      super machi super.. kalakiputta po!!

    • AEvans profile imageAUTHOR

      Julianna 

      6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Kayness: I believe you should pursue that area of art. We just may see you in all of the art galleries, bringing back an art form. You could be following in Elvgren's footsteps. :)

    • Kayness profile image

      Kayness 

      6 years ago

      I think there's quite a bit of a market for pinup girls. I've had 2 commissions to draw pin ups within the past three months, even though I didn't have a lot of experience with pinup art. I think that this is something I can diversify into. THanks for the informational article! Elvgren is my favourite too!

    • AEvans profile imageAUTHOR

      Julianna 

      6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Evyln Rose: Me too! :)

    • Evylyn Rose profile image

      Evylyn Rose 

      6 years ago from Virginia, USA

      Maybe we can draw up a business proposition for some artists. They draw us as pin-ups and can use copies of the artwork as examples as they offer it as a service to other women who would be interested. It would be like getting a caricature done, only because it takes far more time and effort the costs would be higher. I could see a big market for it in time with perhaps a few new spins on pin-up art.

    • AEvans profile imageAUTHOR

      Julianna 

      6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Shyron E Shenko: I agree with both you when it comes to livelihood of an artist. Who knows maybe one day they will come back. One may never know. :)

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      6 years ago from Texas

      I agree with Evylyn Rose, but it is hard for an artist if art if the only means of livelyhooh, not much market for pin-up-girls.

    • AEvans profile imageAUTHOR

      Julianna 

      6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Evylyn Rose: I Think it would be fun too. Try to research artists in your area and see if they would create pinup. :)

    • Evylyn Rose profile image

      Evylyn Rose 

      6 years ago from Virginia, USA

      The trick is finding an artist who has (or can do) the same style and is willing to do it. I think it would be a ton of fun and maybe even spark interest in the art again.

    • AEvans profile imageAUTHOR

      Julianna 

      6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Marcy Goodfleisch: Thank you for the appreciating of the hub and the appreciation of the art. It is a lost art that needed to be recognized and admired. Thanks again for the thumbs up. :)

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 

      6 years ago from Planet Earth

      What an amazing hub - great idea for this venue, and I hope you get a HOTD from this. You are right; the art of painting or drawing by hand is slipping away. The examples you gave here are gorgeous (the women, as well as the art). Pin-up girls managed to look like the girl next door showing her sensuous side. The art was provocative without crossing lines into what we might call adult humor or art.

      Voted up, interesting, awesome and beautiful!

    • AEvans profile imageAUTHOR

      Julianna 

      6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Evylyn Rose: They were beautiful and so wholesome. If you wish to be a pinup girl find an artist and just do it! :)

    • Evylyn Rose profile image

      Evylyn Rose 

      6 years ago from Virginia, USA

      What a great hub! Awesome information. I've always loved the old pinup art. Now I want to be a pinup girl! XD Voted up and shared!

    • AEvans profile imageAUTHOR

      Julianna 

      6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      LG: Thank you. I do not know what has happened but the art form of pinup became lost. So happy you enjoyed. :)

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 

      6 years ago from West By God

      If you got it flaunt it. I, too , think it is a lost art. Well done and voted up and beautiful. I will pin it once a make a board for things that I like.

    • AEvans profile imageAUTHOR

      Julianna 

      6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Steve Lensman: Gil Evgren was one of the best artist of the pinup girl of all time. You made a great choice when you purchased his book.:)

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 

      6 years ago from London, England

      Good work, and I agree it's a lost art form. I bought a book of Gil Elvgren's pin ups last year, beautiful artwork.

      Enjoyed your article, Voted Up.

    • AEvans profile imageAUTHOR

      Julianna 

      6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      pandula77: Nice when all of us can learn something from our work we create. Thanks for the kudos! :)

    • pandula77 profile image

      Dr Pandula 

      6 years ago from Norway

      Very informative hub! well done.

    • AEvans profile imageAUTHOR

      Julianna 

      6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Just Ask Susan: Thank you so much and agreeing with must65gt. It is a lost art. :)

    • AEvans profile imageAUTHOR

      Julianna 

      6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Rolly A Chabot: I did not know the Vargas girls were collectibles. When dad passed away he had a collection of them and I did not have any idea what to do with them. Now I know that the art is appreciated. :)

    • AEvans profile imageAUTHOR

      Julianna 

      6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      must65gt: Unfortunately it is almost gone and forgotten. You can find those beautiful pinups in antique stores. Those pinups are tastefully done and quite artistic. Thanks for the thumbs up.:)

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have to agree with must65gt. Today there's not too much left to the imagination. Great hub!

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 

      6 years ago from Alberta Canada

      This brings back some old memories. Vargas in my opinion was the master of the art of the pinup girls. His work dominated the market for many years. Even today his art originals are considered collectables.

      Great work Julianna....

      Hugs from Canada

    • must65gt profile image

      must65gt 

      6 years ago

      Great hub with reflections of what was a truly lost art. It seems now the art advertisers use almost step over the line and run close to smut. However, there are many beautiful women who still do well in modeling and the advertisers have the photograph transferred to lithographs. thanks for the time and research you took to research the hub. Voted up!

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