The Pin-up Files

Gil Elvgren pin-up artist | gallery 2/9


At any moment, she might step out of the painting and say good morning or good night or offer the viewer a cup of coffee, a drink, or an invitation to some not-so-innocent fun

Even the model's hairstyle was a significant factor - it could take up to two years for a painting to be published and the girl's hair had to be done in a style that would not date easily.

Gil Elvgren pinup artist

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Elvgren always planned each painting carefully. Beginning with an idea, he would develop the visual situation and then select the appropriate model for that specific setting. Next he would decide on the wardrobe, the background for his studio set, the props and the lighting. Finally, Elvgren photographed the scene with a 2 1/4 Rollei, after which he could begin to paint.

The distinguishing mark of Elvgren's pinups compared with those of his contemporaries is that the Elvgren Girls looked like real people. Elvgren Girls had personality and zest; they were lively, friendly beauties brimming with enthusiasm. They were sweet-faced, but also generously endowed by nature. They could easily kindle a twinkle in anyone's eye and often had one in their own. For more than thirty years, from the 1940s to the 1960s, they epitomized the All American Girl.

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