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Gil Elvgren pin-up artist

By the end of the 1940s Elvgren was the most important artist Brown & Bigelow had under contract

Gil Elvgren pinup artist Gil Elvgren (1914-1980)

Gusting winds and playful plants grab at her lovely long legs. She is intruded upon as she takes a bath. Her skirts get caught in elevator doors, hung up on taps, and entangled with dog leashes. The elements conspire in divesting her.

Middle figure at the Brown & Bigelow Convention in Minesaota, 1947

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In 1944 Elvgren was approached by Brown & Bigelow to come aboard as a staff artist. This invitation meant that his work would be in more or less direct competition with work by the company's other pin-up and pin-up artists, who were the crème de la crème of the field. Rolf Armstrong, Earl Moran, and Zoë Mozert had already established themselves as big moneymakers for the publishing house.

The firm that still dominates the field in producing calendars and advertising specialties. They offered him $1,000 per pin-up, which was substantially more than Dow was paying him. Elvgren signed on with Brown & Bigelow. Gil's Brown & Bigelow images all contain his cursive signature. By the terms of Elvgren's contract with Brown & Bigelow, he would turn out twenty calendar girls each year, ranging from cowgirls of the golden west to sultry sirens of the Riviera.

Elvgren began his Brown & Bigelow pin-up series by selecting a larger 30"x 24" canvas as the perfect format. This was considerably larger than the 28" x 22" format he had used almost exclusively for the Dow pin-up series. Except for several special commissions in an even larger format, almost all his Brown & Bigelow paintings for the next 30 years would use the same format as his first canvas for the company.

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