1950s: Gil Elvgren’s Pin-Up Girls: Before & after (Part II)

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52 Responses

  1. Jennifer

    The way they’ve lengthened the hair of all the short-haired women says a lot about what they consider sexy and feminine. . .

  2. Gretchen

    Lengthened the hair, curved the feet (and sometimes put them in different places entirely), shrunk the waist, and twisted the back.

    • shotaiken

      They are pursing their lips, as if to kiss. Duck Face/Duck Lip is something else entirely. o_O How are people confusing the two?

    • Dude Man

      I prefer shorter hair actually. I’m sure there where people to did back then as well too. that said, yes, i do realize that long is probably the general preference, but who really knows for sure?

  3. Jessic Dark

    Its sad how taking out all the girls real personality from the photos turns them into sex objects. Give a surprised look or a cheesy smile to there faces and take out all of the body language that isn’t unnaturally sexy and your left with a woman that can never exist in real life.

  4. Jay

    The “duckface” was created in this era and has evolved to the ever present “guido face” that is overwhelming the northeastern part of the United States. Mainly around the Jersey Shore area.

  5. Karl

    Audiophiles! In picture #2, the photo, there is a Jensen Imperial Folded Horn behind the model, with the famous Jensen G-610 15″ TriAxial Speaker. The model’s cute, but that thing’s GORGEOUS!

  6. squigs

    these women are beautiful, not twigs, curvy and sexy, not orange and full of plastic

  7. moony

    i think what is most interesting is that all the women not featured “in the dressing room” are “at play”. they have hair that almost floats, their skin is peachy and flawless, and their eyes reveal an innocence not known in real women. aside from the obvious, it implies something further. it implies that women were innocent but highly sexual – but not because they meant to be. they are almost childlike, but still sexual creatures.

    • Sadie

      Back then, there was so much misery due to the war, it provided some “relief” ;) for our soldiers. Times were hard and booze, sex and cigarettes were the only escape. Personally, I use to love to wear undergarments like these; Hard not to feel sexy everyday! I wish men and women would dress up like the old days, don’t you? As for the women being innocent – it was all done on purpose to sell calendars, etc. Oh, and best to have these posted for us to remember what REAL women looked like w/o plastic surgery!

  8. Molly

    Why is it that they always have to make them skinnier?? I don’t understand how that’s attractive. The photographs are obviously REAL women, with healthy bodies…but the painted pics are uber skinny and almost impossibly tiny waists. Ugh…natural beauty is so much better. Cool post, though. Thanks for sharing :D
    -Denver car accident lawyer

  9. Nancy

    The difference I see is that the ones before are real women and the ones after are just paintings/drawings.

  10. Alice

    I found it really interesting reading the comments because as I was looking I thought there were surprisingly few changes between the photos and drawings! Much less at least than modern photoshop does in every magazine we read.Im also surprised how many prefer the personality in the photos to the drawings! As a girl I think I’m prettier with more make up, more flirty clothes and when I’m in a cute, affectionate mood but perhaps I should ditch it all!

    • Tom

      Alice, go with whatever makes you feel great. But remember, we guys are simple fellows and affection goes a very long way!

  11. SD

    I don’t think that either version of the women is “better”. I think that the “before” images are beautiful in their own way, and the “after” images are as well. They are both pieces of art, and I just feel that the women posing in the original images serve as a base image on the canvas to create something entirely different. I also don’t agree with the comment stating that their waists are “impossibly thin” in the after images.. There are plenty of women who are that thin naturally and are beautiful. And there are also a lot of women who are “bigger” and are just as beautiful. Although I do think they look really silly making the pucker face in every image, hehe.

  12. Aidy

    Amazing image transition. The women in the images before are just as beautiful as the remade images. They must have loved the pouty lip look back then :)

  13. KS

    This is very cool, as an artist, I totally understand this. The models photographed are just used as references. Pin up’s are meant to be super curvy so if the waist was brought in a little, it’s just because of the style of artwork. I enjoyed this

  14. CL

    The face they’re making is NOTHING like today’s “duckface”. They were making an “ooh” face to look like they are A) surprised by being caught in a compromising position what with their underthings (or less) showing or B) just making a demure “ooh” face. There’s a big difference between that and the present day “duckface” which is meant to be a kiss to the camera but actually looks ridiculous! These girls and their drawings are gorgeous!! Sad that girls today don’t have class and can’t look sweet and innocent while showing a little skin.

  15. KS

    It’s a Barbie thing and it does take personality out of it. They are well done technically, but the beliefs and treatment of women that these painting represent is disgusting. Making the faces interchangeable is a way to objectify.

  16. Stephanie

    An artist’s model is a tool the artist uses in order to get an idea for a pose, and how the lighting would be realistically on the figure. These women aid artists in creating fun, realistic fantasies. The artist is not obligated to make his finished piece of art a recognizable portrait of the model, and often the movement of the model’s glances, or arching of backs and feet, adds flow and interest to the overall composition. I think noticeably there are a few photo references here that Elvgren directly traced or projected for his final piece, modifying very little. Take into account the time constraint for clients in advertising. Any changes he did were to add to the composition and theme, and should not insult the model or any viewers that identify with the models. I am a professional model and artist myself, having posed for Marvel action figures, where obviously final changes are made that I don’t argue with. Check out Frank Frazetta for some different, more modern pinups, and try to appreciate the hard work in beauty that both artist and model do.

    • Stuart Garfath

      Stephanie, thank you!.
      Your words are words rarely heard, but most insightful.
      They add a fundamental layer to what we, the general public, see as we observe the end result of a collaboration between two professionals, – both unique within their own disciplines-, artists, in every sense.
      The result is theirs, the interpretation is endless.

  17. Vedette

    They could have been very beautiful to me. The only thing that turned me off is the duck face expression that they are doing.

  18. CJ

    I wouldn’t call it beautiful its just pinup cartoons, I wouldn’t expect them to look real. Their purpose is not to have any real effect, only to tickle the fancy of the dominant white male class, which includes too many girls who have internalized this reduction of beauty to a very specific way of looking.

  19. Bicycle Bill

    You’ve gotta admit that Elvgren and his contemporaries like Vargas sure know how to draw ‘em.

    And it harkens back to a gentler time, when the mere suggestion of naughtiness was sexy and enticing — as opposed to now when erotic pictures look more like illustrations from a gynecology textbook.

  20. curvycom

    These women were beautiful and pinups are beautiful as well.

    CJ and the rest of the marxist deconstructionists can (and will ultimately) fade away.

    WE WILL BURY YOU!!! (You can’t see, of course, but I’m pounding my shoe on the table as I yell this : )

  21. Iris

    What an interesting piece of history! I really enjoyed the images and I am glad that the photographic and artistic interpretations were preserved!

  22. Keith

    In a lot of the paintings, the model’s face has been replaced with that of model/actress Myrna Hansen (#1020 above), Gil Elvgren’s favorite figure model. That’s one reason why the faces tend to look alike.

  23. Mac

    Making a “duck face” or “fishy face” back then is the same as it is now. A lot of young girls do the same thing. This is just early photoshop.

  24. sarajeanlady

    so, let’s get this straight here people, the duckface isn’t what these women are immolating, they are doing the standard kiss lips with a surprised Look that was present in most men’s erotica back then. see,the duckface that all these tarts are giving in their profile- and apparently any other pics they pose for – it’s really just a shabby attempt at making the face these ladies here are doing. it just happens that they are so terrible at pulling it off, they Look stupid and unfortunately unsexy lol, so ladies who give constant duckface: take a hint from the original models who perfected the “naughty face”, or maybe just smile like a normal human being instead of trying to prove how sexy/ducky you are…

    • Hayley

      Maybe if they had a skilled artist “sexifying” all their pictures, the modern-day duckfacers would look just as nice as the pin-up girls?
      I do think the duckface looks stupid, but I also think the pouty/surprised facial expression of these pinup girls is a little bit ridiculous.

  25. Stellan

    This is just the modelphotos to Elvgrens pin-up paintings!?!
    It’s quiet common to take modelpictures to use ase study for the paintings, having a live model to pose for a painting costs by the hour..

    And the changes from the model photos? But of course, this are pin-up paintings or advertisingillustrations, it has nothing with realism to do..

    Interesting to se how Elvgren made some changes in positure from the modelpictures.

    More about Gil Elvgren: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gil_Elvgren

  26. JohnDoe

    For more check out the book “For the Boys – the racy pin ups of World War 2″ which has original sketches the artists made before the final color versions were authorized, the published version by the artist and the variations produced by various painters adding copies (some more loosly than others) as nose art to their aircraft. Keep in mind there were few women around on many of the bases and this was a way of reminding themselves what they were getting themselves killed for.
    ps – there seems to be a ridiculous focus on duck faces. Sad that such girls think they have to try so hard.
    pps – Alice – sorry to disappoint you but most guys prefer to see as little makeup as possible. The way most women do makeup isn’t about beauty anyway, it is about identity and is no more than tribal markings.

  27. JL

    The difference are the pictures on the left are Women, the paintings on the right are Girls. Cutsy, innocent, oh my goodness me oopsy doopsy i didn’t even notice my skirt flew up and my spine fell off. As soon as a woman is called a girl, forget about reality and welcome a childish fantasy.

  28. DB

    As a trained illustrator, I loved this series. Preferences change over time but for historical reference it’s genius. I would love to see a series like this on fashion illustration. Gruau perhaps? I have two comments to add to the ones previously posted. First, the boys/men at war that these images were created for had their sexual awakenings at an early age (teen-pre-teen?). I don’t mean a physical experience with a member of the opposite sex but rather a fantasy experience so their ideal woman would be a girl who is 18 rather than a woman like the one who modeled. Secondly, what I’ve learned with really good art that is capturing life, for a piece to engage the observer it needs to offer something more compelling than what reality offers. Otherwise, what’s the point of spending one’s time looking at it? One may as well just look at the real thing. I say this in defense of each line that Elvgren slimmed, arched, curved and exaggerated that each boy enjoyed back then and we do now.


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