Thursday, 7 January 2010

Influences part 24: Gil Elvgren

Gil Elvgren (1914 - 1980) was an American painter and illustrator, best known for some of the 500 pin-up paintings that he produced during a 40 year career; however he also produced adverts for a range of clients including Coca-Cola (for 25 years) and the Good Housekeeping magazine.
In his excellent book Gil Elvgren: The Complete Collection (2008), co-author Charles G. Martignette describes Elvgren as "the Norman Rockwell of the pin-up genre of American Illustration" before going on to say that he also had the high skills of a classical artist. Indeed I would go so far as to suggest that Elvgren's work demonstrates [although often restrained in his commercial work] a superb understanding of form, composition, lighting, and colour that is comparable with Great Masters such as Rembrandt and Vermeer.

Even if you don't already know him by name, you may be familiar with Elvgren's visual style. For example, the style of his pin-up paintings influenced the look of The Saturday's 'Just Can't Get Enough' music video for Comic Relief 2009.

Gil Elvgren is often considered the greatest pin-up artist of all time, and has influenced a great number of artists.
I can't recall how I became familiar with his work, but I suspect it was either name-checked from research conducted during my final year at Edinburgh College of Art, or else he was probably mentioned by a tattoo artist on Miami Ink (as pin-up girls have often been a source of inspiration for many traditional tattoos).
Regardless of this, Elvgren's first notable influence on my own work came soon after I graduated (July 2009), and is most obvious in my portrait painting of actress Ava Gardner as seen here.
Although in my previous blog post I mentioned that I considered the style of Gil Elvgren's pin-up paintings as a relevant painting technique for interpreting the cool 60s style of Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie into a painting of my own.

- An extensive fan site.
- Gil Elvgren at The Pin-Up Files.
- Pin-Up Page: A big collection of Elvgren pin-up paintings.
- Interview with the director of The Saturday's Just Can't Get Enough music video - created in the style of Gil Elvgren's pin-up paintings.

CAUTION: Some of Gil Elvgren's pin-up paintings below display vintage Pretty Girls with underwear and/or mild nudity, which may not be suitable for viewing in public places (ie: at work, school, library, etc).
If using a public computer, please consider those around you and observe any codes-of-conduct before proceeding to the paintings below. (I don't think the images are distasteful or bad, but who knows - some people may take offense to them)...

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