Dakota Midday: Classic Pin-Up Art of Gil Elvgren

Jan 30, 2015

The middle of the 20th century was the heyday of the pin-up girl, when colorful, illustrated images of playful, attractive young women were created for calendars, magazines and print ads. Pin-up girls were morale boosters during World War Two keeping servicemen company. Some illustrations were reproduced and painted on the noses of military aircraft.

"Some Help!" by Gil Elvgren

One of the best known of all the pin-up illustrators was St. Paul-born artist Gil Elvgren, who some have called the Norman Rockwell of pin-ups. From the mid-1930s through 1972, Elvgren produced over 500 paintings of beautiful girls and women,  first for the Louis F. Dow and later the Brown and Bigelow calendar companies. Although his pin-ups weren’t considered art at the time, an original Gil Elvgren painting will sell for $100,000 to $225,000 today.

Sarahjane Blum-Murphy is co-owner of Grapefruit Moon Gallery in Minneapolis. It's an on-line gallery and dealer of original pin-up paintings by Gil Elvgren and other artists and illustrators. Blum-Murphy is also one of the authors of  the book, The Art of Pin-up. She joined Dakota Midday's Fifth Friday and discussed the art and legacy of Gil Elvgren.