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Gil Elvgren (March 15, 1914 – February 29, 1980), born Gillette Elvgren, was an American painter of pin-up girls, advertising and illustration. Elvgren was one of the most important pin-up and glamour artists of the twentieth century.
Today he is best known for his pin-up paintings for Brown & Bigelow. Elvgren studied at the American Academy of Art.
Gillette A. Elvgren attended University High School. After graduation he began studying art at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. He subsequently moved to Chicago to study at the American Academy of Art. He graduated from the Academy during the depression at the age of twenty-two. Elvgren joined the stable of artists at Stevens and Gross, Chicago's most prestigious advertising agency. He became a protégé of the talented artist, Haddon Sundblom.
Elvgren was a classical American illustrator. He was a master of portraying the all-American ideal feminine, but he wasn't limited to the calendar pin-up industry. He was strongly influenced by the early "pretty girl" illustrators, such as Charles Dana Gibson, Andrew Loomis, and Howard Chandler Christy. Other influences included the Brandywine School founded by Howard Pyle.
In 1937, Gil began painting calendar pin-ups for Louis F. Dow, one of America's leading publishing companies, during which time he created about 60 works. Around 1944, Gil was approached by Brown and Bigelow, a firm that still dominates the field in producing calendars and advertising specialties. He was associated with Brown and Bigelow from 1945 to 1972.
Elvgren was a commercial success. Elvgren lived in various locations, and was active from the 1930s to 1970s. His clients ranged from Brown and Bigelow and Coca-Cola to General Electric and Sealy Mattress Company. In addition, during the 1940s and 1950s he illustrated stories for a host of magazines, such as The Saturday Evening Post and Good Housekeeping.
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Book Review: Gil Elvgren: All His Glamorous American Pin-Ups Hardcover: 271 pages
Publisher: Taschen GmbH; Taschen's 25th anniversary ed edition (25 Mar 2008)
Language English, German, French
Product Dimensions: 30.6 x 23 x 2.6 cm
Availability: Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | JP) Bookdepository (US | UK)
"The Norman Rockwell of cheesecake"
Eye candy for the American dream, Gil Elvgren was the painters painter of glamour pinups.
His 50's models were Myrna Hansen and Janet Rae while in the 60's there were Rusty Allen and Marjorie Shuttleworth.
Although he specialized in pinups he also did advertising and posters.
There are about 588 items, pinups and advertising illustrations in the book, with some photo references and drawings.
The layout has the pictures in a rather random grid but each item is numbered and
labelled. There are approximatley 30 pages of biography in the front of the book in English with the German and
French translations in the back.
Gil Elvgren has a light comic feel to most of his pinups. The figure work is gorgeous, with
beautiful women in lingerie, stockings and more revealing poses. The patterns and textures
of the clothes are well observed with some impressionistic touches mainly to the backgrounds.
Although some of the reproductions are of the actual paintings, the less clear and blurry items
seem to be from magazine or calender items.
The pinups of Gil Elvgren were like real people, real attractive women. If you take someone like Vargas you will see
that while Vargas used an elongated, ultra smooth figure, Which is not to say that Elvgren didn't enhance some models.
He would paint fuller lips, tuck in waists, increase busts and lengthen legs.Elvgren's babes were average height. His painting style
became impressionistic as he matured and as he mastered the oil medium