Pin-up girls garnered massive popularity in the ’50’s. Before the advent of the Internet and the plethora of image manipulation tools that followed the web boom in the late 2000’s, there were only so many ways you could Photoshop a real woman. Artists like Gil Elvgren and George Petty did this via the oldest medium of art known to man : paint. These pin-up paintings, as they were called (meant to be “pinned-up” on the wall), however, were not really accurate reproductions of the models that posed for them.
Airbrushing and Photoshopping the female body beyond the point of recognition might seem like a fairly modern phenomenon that solely belongs to the age of the inter-webs, but that is not the truth.
The history of image manipulation goes far back (as early as 1869), and while it may not be as drastic and efficient as today’s methods, studying pin-up art and their behind-the-scenes photos allows us a glimpse into how society perceived female beauty.
Pin-up art eventually came to define and standardize what “sexy” meant for the majority of the male population, but it was not always so.
The Post-Victorian era pin-up movement saw women being vocally supportive of celebrating the female body in all its forms, and doing away with the shame they had been conditioned to attach to it. These images from iconic American pin-up artist Gil Elvgren show us the models’ transition from real-life to canvas.