The Pin-up Files

Gil Elvgren pin-up artist | gallery 3/9


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

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.

Elvgren is the middle figure at the 1947 Brown & Bigelow Convention in Minesaota.

Gil Elvgren pinup artist

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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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All Pin-up Files gallery images are subject to copyright and must not be considered to be in the public domain. All copyright information is shown where known.