The Beauty of Pinup and Commercial Art

This is a blog about men and women as seen throughout the history of advertising and pinup art. Art has always reflected the distinct diversity and beauty of both sexes respectively. Just as there is a moon, there is a sun, a night and day, cold and hot...male and female. It is the very sustenance of Nature.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Can you give me a little hand?

Depends who you ask. Here we have a charming illustration for S.0.S. from 1956. We can observe that the young man has apparently stopped working cleaning those tires to near perfection. Something else is grabbing his attention. The attractive curvy girl with the jeans has taken over his space, almost neutralizing the power of the car. For every man his car is his status. He wants to keep in good working order and wants the best to maintain it clean--with S.O.S pads. However, he needs the girl too. What does he want more?

The natural curve of the woman's back lies over the frontal curve of the Volkswagen. Her feminine body soon takes precedence. No matter how beautiful the car, it can never compete with the beauty of the female. Her curves are flexible, and controllable only by her. She knows when and how to move, to bring out the best of the masculine emotions that translate into action. A car is controlled by its driver, but the female can choose who, when and if she will be controlled. She accelerates, decelerates and the mutual emotions intensify.

The young girl looks down at her mate from her vantage point--on top of his car. She's provocative, smiling, and making the conversation flow. He may continue polishing this wheel, but by this time, his mind is already distracted. More important matters require his attention.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

It's your move...

So, what are you waiting for? This is a charming illustration from Edward Runci. The sexy girl has both a look of innocence and seduction in her face. She's carefully placed between the game board and the...fireplace behind her. She is smart, knows all the moves, but she can't play this game alone. She needs company, she needs someone with smart moves of his own, someone who can keep up with her in this ancient power game of strategy and conquest. There she is staring at you with a smile. Are you the man? Are you ready to take control, take command of the board? Take off your shoes, sit comfortably down on the fluffy white rug. Show her what you got. And if you win? What would be the prize?

Runci creates a very provocative, seductive scene here. The leaning position of the attractive young woman's right arm, together with her head tilting to the right, allows the light from the fireplace to silhouette her well rounded breasts, supreme symbol of her femininity. Her facial expression, with the cute smirk, is defiant, yet never angry or menacing. It's not her way to challenge on a man to man basis, but rather wants to push him to play the game in a way that perhaps both will win.

There is a healthy fireplace behind her full of the passions and desires she is trying to hide. Perhaps if her man makes the right move, if his desire to conquer is as strong as her desire to be taken, then they'll both be engulfed by that great, all consuming fire behind them. And it will be a victory for both.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Calm and well rested

The illustration above was created by Pearl Frush, one of the leading female illustrators in the calendar business of the 1940's and '50s. She opened her first studio in Chicago in the early 1940's working on freelance projects. Frush also worked at the prestigious Sundblom, Johnson, and White Studios, one of the major production houses at the time.

The young girl above is relaxed, well rested and happily poses for us. It seems as if she's getting up from a good night sleep, something which seems more elusive in our present times. Obviously, this girl does not belong to our world of the Blackberry, emails, cell phones and all the gadgets keeping our anxieties permanently alive. During the period of this illustration, there was a different perception of time which is captured here by Pearl Frush. This girl is in no hurry, she wants to be admired, looked at and is possibly dreaming of the handsome lover who will sweep her off her feet. Her face exudes kindness, love and idealism.

Wearing a black negligee makes a sharp contrast to the pure white bed sheets. Using these contrasting colors brings out her flesh tones more, emphasizing the healthy freshness of her youth. Her dark hair bounces down her shoulders, adding a finishing touch to this contrast. The artist did not forget our pretty young girl's feet either. She painted her slippers a discreet red to distinguish the color of her feet to the color of the floor which are similar in this illustration.

The limited use of watercolors, a simple setting, and the femininity of our young model create a blissful scene for us to enjoy and perhaps makes us forget about the gadgets of our world that keeps us awake.

Bright and Perfect World

"It's a work of art," seems to be what the young housewife is saying in this 1960 ad for Sharon Steel Corporation. The illustration is clear in its depiction of male/female division of labor. The attractive young wife is in her domain, the kitchen, polishing her tools of the trade. This is her space and these are her tools. This is the world she controls and knows best. By contrast, in the background we see her husband, also polishing, but instead of kitchen utensils, he's polishing his prized possession: a car. This is his world, his domain. The car represents his status in the community. It has to kept in good working condition and shape. It has to be shiny as this represents success. Thanks to this success he's married, has a house and can provide his wife with all the tools she wants and needs.

The balance in this picture is created by the division of labor between the sexes. The man is outside, essentially taking care of his car while his wife is inside maintaining her world in order. Just as both are opposite, they compliment each other symbiotically.

Always be sociable

This is a lovely 1959 Pepsi ad depicting an upscale, sophisticated crowd. The balance in the picture is created by the two groups of men and women, one in the foreground (left) and the other in background (right). Each group creates the basic triangular form in composition. In the foreground, two men and a woman serve as a counterpoint to the two women and a man in the background. All this adds to the aesthetic balance in this ad.

The central focus point of the ad, however, is the young woman sitting down in the foreground. She sits in a very feminine pose, emphasizing the rounded forms of her attractive femaleness. The color of her shoes, dress and hair match the color of the table close to her. If you notice the table, it too has rounded features, the base resembling the female waistline. She extends her left arm, delicately holding her cigarette unlike a man would. Most important of all, she drinks Pepsi. She is bright and sophisticated.

While the group in the foreground seems harmonious in that all three are paying attention and discussing a plant, there is tension within the group in the background. The man and the woman in the blue dress have turned their backs on each other. There is tension between both sexes created in this spot of the ad. The lady in front of the man, holding a Pepsi bottle, seems to be distancing herself from him as well. Curiously, we don't see a Pepsi bottle in this man's hands. He seems to be the odd man out. Perhaps he's not too sociable.

In the far background of the ad, we see a man and woman, probably a couple. Not too much detail here. This couple clearly serve to give the entire illustration balance of form.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Things are heating up...

This is a charming 1959 ad for Pepsi. Here we see a couple, clearly in love, enjoying a day for themselves. The young woman is very relaxed lying back on the feminine patio recliner. She has stopped reading her book, is looking into her man's eyes and paying full attention to him. He too is comfortable and relaxed, taking a break from the grill. Yet, as you can notice, the long fork still remains in his hand. This also is an extension of the male member and his virility. Basically, the man has moved from one grill to...another. Slowly he makes himself busy cooking and stirring the passion of love in the woman of his dreams. If you observe the woman, she crosses her hands across her chest and crosses her right leg to the left. She's clearly holding her own passions back demurely, but her face tells us that this will only lasts so long.