It’s a well-known fact that pin ups are as American as the apple pie! Pin up art started at the beginning of the 20th century as “innocent” drawings and evolved to what it is today. But let’s go through the years step by step. During the early years of 1900s society began reacting against the repression of the previous decades and “sexy” images began to pop up on magazines in illustrated stories. In 1930 illustrators like Alberto Vargas and George Petty were creating playful girls drawings that destined to adorn the walls of garages and such places everywhere. They both worked for Esquire Magazine, which continued to be the first source of pin up art until the 1950s when Playboy kicked in. We’ve just found out where the word “pin up” comes from: those prints were pinned on the walls, so alluring girls drawings were called pin ups.
The pin up phenomenon exploded in the 1940s though: with the start of the World War II those drawings became really popular, and pin up’s posters were printed and sent to G.I. all over the world. Every soldier had a couple of pin ups stuffed in his kitbag to bring wherever he was sent to. Those postcards or posters were meant to remind the men of what was waiting for them at home, their loved ones, and they also had the function of “cheering them up” and give them strength. Pin ups were also painted on airplanes noses to bring them luck:
Bomber girls weren’t just about pictures of bombshells: the female figures were regarded as mascots that would ensure the plane’s safe return home. Sociologists have linked airplane nose art to the carved figureheads once found on the bows of ships, which superstitious sailors regarded as a type of good luck charm.One of the most famous pin ups to be seen “pinned up” in lockers was Bettie Grable; she was a very popular, early pin up girl and one of the few “real” ones circulating during the WW II. The other prints were idealized depictions of what a sex symbol should have looked like. In the 1950s pin up art started to take the form of photography, and magazines like Playboy featured pinup photos on a regular basis. Pin up art spread so quickly and widely that these “sexual” images became acceptable for everyone in a matter of a very short time. Perhaps it has to do with the usual sense of fun and “innocence” that can be found in the early pin up images, and that lives on in pin up inspired art today. In some cases (see Bettie Page) pin up had a slightly darker style, involving bondage and fetish: but fun and tease were still part of the equation. Many retro pin ups are still considered icons today, you can read about some of the most famous pin ups in our previous post Top 5 Famous Pin Ups of the 1950s which features Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Bettie Page and more. Throughout the 60s and the 70s the pin up idea of sexy was slowly but steadily replaced with much more explicit images, losing that allure and magic those 40s and 50s girls had. Today we are re-discovering pin up art, both in painting and in photography, and we have women like Dita Von Teese who perfectly incarnate the 21st century pin up. In a time of economic crisis a revival of a prosperous and positive time is surely a nice thing, and we absolutely love and support the 50s and pin up re-discovery. Do you prefer original pin ups or modern bombshells? Let us know in the comments below! Photo credits: Pinterest.com