Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren photographed and painted pin up models such as Bettie Page, working from the 1930's right through to the 1970's.

His distinctive style has influenced countless artists and illustrators, many of whom he apprenticed. Elvgrens work was made for mass production, being used in advertisements, on magazine covers and alongside short stories and articles, even being printed on Jigsaw puzzles. When looking through a book of his work i recognised a lot of it, Elvgrens paintings have become iconic and i realised I was familiar with it as it is still being reproduced today.

His illustrations for Coca Cola during the war were mostly of wholesome looking, ordinary people on the homefront or of military men, all designed to boost morale.

However during the 1950's Elvgren was comissioned to design a Coca Cola billboard featuring a scantily clad girl on a swing and many other companies used his more provocative paintings in their advertising campaigns.

These images are in stark contrast to the ideals of the decade and yet we associate the 1950's with the pin up girl. His illustrations were compiled in calenders, most likely aimed at men, but were also used in magazines such as 'Good Housekeeping' and so appealed to women aswell. This suggests that the traditional values were beggining to waver making way for the era of free love, renewed feminism and a more bohemian lifestyle in the 1960's - in which Elvgren continued to do well.

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