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American Illustrator Gil Elvgren - Coursework Example

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His career spanning four decades from the 1930s to the 1970s encompassed different types of art work including commercial advertisements for Coca Cola and other products, and creating illustrations for magazines like the Saturday Evening Post and Good Housekeeping. Elvgren as an artist continues to be remembered till today, mostly for his pin-up paintings for calendars commissioned and produced by the promotional firm Brown and Bigelow. Thesis Statement: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the work of American illustrator Gil Elvgren, particularly with reference to his pinup art. Gil Elvgren’s Distinctive Pinup Art Style “Although most of Gil Elvgren’s work was created for commercial use, it has been increasingly recognized as fine art by many private collectors, dealers, galleries and museums” (Meisel & Martignette:12). As the most important pinup and glamor artist of the twentieth century, Elvgren’s expertise in portraying the feminine form was extended beyond the calendar pinup industry. He was greatly influenced by the early “pretty girl” illustrators such as Charles Dana, Gibson, Andrew Loomis, and Howard Chandler Christy. The Brandywine School founded by Howard Pyle also influenced his work. Besides being a successful commercial artist in various fields, Gil Elvgren was also a professional photographer of repute. He had amazing energy and talent, and was considered as a respected and even revered teacher of students, some of whom went on to become famour artists in their own right. Elvgren’s personally rendered instruction and support was responsible to a great extent, for his students’ success (Meisel & Martignette: 13). Although Elvgren was best known for his pinups, his advertising work “depicted typical Americans, ordinary people doing everyday things” (, 2010). Further, the women that the artist painted were not the femme fatale, the female adventuress, or somebody’s mistress. They reflect the girl next door whose feminine charms are innocently revealed in an unexpected instant, in what might be an embarassing situation. The artist’s supporters agree that Gil Elvgren portraying that fleeting moment when a girl is caught off guard is not only unusual, but has a sexy quality about it. Several of his paintings from the 1940s to the 1960s feature a woman doing an ordinary task such as barbecuing, watering the lawn, or shopping, when she is unprepared for a sudden gust of smoke (Fig.1), jet of water from a hose (Fig.2) or other effect which raises her skirt to reveal her stockings and garters. The woman’s expression is one of shock but never horror, with a hint of a smile “in the O of her perfectly painted lips” (Taormino: 125). Fig.1. Smoke Screen by Gil Elvgren, 1958 (The Pinup Files 1, 2011) Fig.2. A Near Miss by Gil Elvgren, 1960 (The Pinup Files 2, 2011) It is evident that the context for the scene is created by Elvgren as a pretense for the viewer to get a glimpse under the girl’s skirt. It is both voyeuristic and innocent, because it tells the viewer that he just saw something that he was not supposed to. Though occasionally, the artist has uncovered the upper part of the body, there is very little nudity in his paintings which portrayed an old fashioned naughtiness (Taormino: 125). The Contribution of PInups to World War II Wartime imagery was an anomaly, deviating from the usual norms, and more decorous due to military control over the images. Gil ...Show more
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Name and Number of the Course Date AMERICAN ILLUSTRATOR GIL ELVGREN Introduction Gil Elvgren (1914-1980) born Gillette Elvgren, was an American painter of pin-up girls, advertisements and story illustrations (, 2010)…
American Illustrator Gil Elvgren
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