Gil Elvgren (American Pin-Up Artist)


2015-06-26 11:00:03


Gil Elvgren (March 15, 1914 – February 29, 1980) was one of the most famous and influential painters of pin-up art. He produced over five hundred paintings of pin-up girls between the 1930s and 1970s, including some of the best known images of that form during the twentieth century, both for advertising and independent sales.

The women Elvgren painted were never the femme fatale, the female adventuress, or somebody's mistress. They are the girl next door whose charms are innocently revealed in that fleeting instant when she is caught unaware in what might be an embarrassing situation.. His work is representative of transitions in the ideals of an era, and both demonstrates, and can take some credit for, the changing notions of beauty and taste across decades.


Gil Elvgren studied at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and at the American Academy of Art. He worked for advertising agency Stevens and Gross in Chicago, and in 1937 began producing pin-up calendars for publisher Louis F. Dow. In 1944, sixty calendars later, he was headhunted by calendar producing and advertising mogul Brown and Bigelow, whom he worked for until 1972. He went on to produce designs for such giants as Coca-Cola and General Electric, as well as for various magazines.


Elvgren worked largely with oil on canvas. His aim was to paint femininity: to produce the ideal all-American woman of the decades in which he worked, and his career and popularity are testament to his success. It is considered that Elvgren, alongside Alberto Vargas, George Petty, Rolf Armstrong, Zoe Mozert, and Earl Moran, elevated the pin-up image to an art form.

Notable Sales

  • June 5th, 2008: Fascination (1952) oil on canvas. Sold for $262,900.
  • June 5th, 2008: Skirting the Issue (1952) oil on canvas. Sold for $203,150.
  • July 15th, 2009: It’s a Snap (Pretty Snappy; Snap Judgment) (1958) oil on canvas. Sold for $215,100.
  • May 4th, 2011: Gay Nymph (1947) oil on canvas. Sold for $286,800.
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