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Shameless Art History

February 28, 2011 Articles, Inspiration

I was in Ottawa last week on business and spent some time – as I tend to do quite often – at the local Chapters checking out the Art and Photography section, seeing if I could add to my collection of reference books.

As I’ve been taking some photography pin-up workshops myself and will be teaching a fetish pinup workshop for my X Lens course, I was happy to come across a real gem of a reference book. Shameless Art: 20th Century Genre and the Artists That Defined It by Underwood, Fenner & Fenner, is a look at classic pinup history from its beginnings in the pulp magazines of the 30s, pinup calendars from the 40s & 50s, to the paperback books of the 50s & 60s.

Whether you see it as High Art or Low-Brow kitsch, these commercial images influenced the look of contemporary fashion, film, and the content of many gallery shows, as well as the resurgence of today’s pinup and fetish pinup industry which fuels a large photography, alternative fashion, makeup, hair, and music culture.

The book is full of page after page of full-colour reproductions from classic pinup artists such as pinup master VargasEarle Bergey, Art Deco pinup master Enoch Bolles, George Petty and his famous “Petty Girl”, father of American “Good Girl” art Rolf Armstrong, Ted Withers, Bill Randall, Gil Elvgren, and pastel artist Bradshaw Crandall among many others. The poses and settings are classic and inspirational and show how how very little, and how very much has changed since pinup began.

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