02 February, 2016

Pin-up Art and the Golden Age of Illustration (Part I 1890's Gibson Girls - 1930's Advertising)

Ted Whiter
For as long as I can remember, I've had fascination with pin-up...the glamour, beauty, fashion of bygone era has always completely captivated me. The whole aesthetic of pin-up has inspired me and had profound influence my personal style and creative interests. Charmed and entranced by Bettie Page's style, I wanted to learn more about 'pin-up', where the it came from and how it began - integral to pin-up of course is art. At that time I was unaware of the rich history of of pin-up culture and the impact of the creative visions of artists and illustrators that have spawned since the early 19th century which makes it all the more fascinating. I wanted to share my a brief snapshot of the history of pin-up and golden age of illustration and celebrate the rich cultural history.
Olivia De Berardinis
Art has played a massive role in the popularisation of 'pin-up', known as the of the 'golden age of illustration'. Artists such as Charles Gibson, Alberto Vargas, Rolf Armstrong, Enoch Bolles, Gil Elvgren, Art Frahm, Edward Runci, and these are just a few of my favourites that I can think off! There is vast information available on-line where you can view any of the artist I mention and also find many more. I'm hoping this series will inspire your appreciation of pin-up art and it's history. Art, illustration and advertising has shaped and stylised societal notions of fashion and beauty since the 1800's and continues to do so. Olivia De Berardinis is one of my favourite modern pin-up artists and it's such a delight to see pin-up art continues to grow and become ever more popular. With modern subjects such as Dita Von Teese, Masuimi Max and Bernie Dexter featuring heavily featured within her works; painting the popular 'pin-ups' of our time and cementing their status as some of the most beautiful women in the world just like those before. De Berardinis work has ensured pin-up art stays relevant within modern culture and I adore her work.  

Gibson Girl Look
To appreciate the rich history of pin-up art, social and cultural references we see today within modern pin-up culture we need to journey back to 1890's to the "Gibson Girl" era. The artist Charles Gibson's, "Gibson Girl" fashioned some of the earliest pin-up images created as we have become familiar with. That's not to say that there was other painting and images adorning women but the 'pin-up' women Gibson created in his drawings were "tall and slender, yet with ample bosom, hips and buttocks. With an "exaggerated S-curve torso shape achieved by wearing a swan-bill corset. The images "epitomized the late 19th and early 20th century Western preoccupation with youthful features and ephemeral beauty." Women wanted to emulate their style while men admired the glamour of 'Gibson Girl' look. 

Raphael Kirchner's Pinup
By WWI (1914-1918) artist Raphael Kirchner beautiful postcard images became massively popular especially with American and English troops during the war. I guess in such horrific circumstances (WWI being one of the most horrific wars the world has experienced) the images would have offered some comfort and sense of beauty in the world amongst all the deprivation and destruction in front of them.  Inspired by his wife his art typically depicted his subjects mainly women in beautifully soft and elegant manner in lingerie or various different scenes. Often referred to as the founding father of pin-up art with his work inspiring some of the my favourite pin-up artists such as Alberto Vargas. Remaining popular until the early 20th century, women sought a new role model as as style and society began to move away from more Victorian 'Gibson Girl' look into the more. was fast becoming synonymous with glamour, beauty, a sign of modernity and increasing liberalism and freedoms. 

George Petty
Alberto Vargas 
Celebrated artist Alberto Vargas, inspired by Kirchner's work, was commissioned to paint the some of the leading stars of Ziegfeld Follies by 1919; later working with Paramount pictures working with major Hollywood stars at the time whilst also being commissioned for Vogue, Tatler and Harpers Bazaar illustrating some of the most iconic images ever to grace such covers. The distinctive style of the 1920's brought about a whole new era of pin-up. Reflecting the change in attitude and the new vogue, fingers waves, shortened hemlines and less constrictive style meant that women were freer in fashion and ideals. Pin up art reflected this freedom and we begin to see pin-up reach new heights of popularity.  Advertising agencies and corporations recruited the best illustrators of the day with Alberto Vargas being hired to replace George Petty's at Esquire magazine. His predecessor Petty, was the hugely successful illustrator in his own right, finding fame with his cartoon series appearing in Esquire which were dubbed the "Petty Girls" with the magazine creating centrefold issue of Petty's pin-up for the Christmas edition in 1939. 

Alberto Vargas
Part 2 coming next week... featuring some of my favourite artist from my the era that captured my the 1940's going right up to the present day! Hope you enjoy Part 1 and please look-up these wonderful artists if you're interested in vintage fashion, art or culture. Don't forget you can visit The Chic Guide on Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ for even more fashion, art and vintage. Don't forget to subscribe, like and share! Have a great week/ weekend and keep chic! Thanks for stopping by...
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