The “come back” of the Pin Up Girl can be attributed to the desire people seem to have with admiring “pretty girls”, “Hollywood’s-good-ol-days”, and the nostalgia of yester year as all things Vintage and Retro are hotter than ever. We can also thank mainstream television with shows like L.A. Ink and Miami Ink as it seems a majority of the episodes showed men and women having Pin Up Girl tattoos done on various parts of their bodies by the very talented tattoo artists these particular tattoo studios have.
How Pin Up Girls Originated
Pin-Ups date back to prehistoric days, ancient Greece as well as the Renaissance as each of these civilizations and periods had their version of images of well-endowed women on cave drawings, sculpture, and paintings. Early American influences in magazines and print illustrations include Howard Pyle (1853-1911), his Brandywine school and students such as N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945), Harvey Dunn (1884-1952), Frank Schoonover (1877-1972) and Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966). Dean Cornwell (1892-1960), John La Gatta (1894 – 1976) and Andrew Loomis (1892-1959) were also major forces in magazine and advertising illustration. The Arts and Crafts and decorative Art Nouveau movements in Europe also contributed to the artistry and styles of the times.
We are probably most familiar with the World War Two, pin-ups that accompanied G.I.s and these pin-ups were movie stars that were considered sex symbols. Photos of Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, and Ava Gardener to name a few.
Alberto Vargas & The Varga Girl
It was Esquire that first introduced America to the Varga Girl, in 1940 and the name Vargas has been synonymous with pin-up and glamour art. Alberto Vargas (1896 – 1982).
Vargas became known worldwide, and his work, both in the monthly magazine and the yearly calendar, was eagerly awaited. Although he had a full schedule of work for Esquire during the war years, he often, accommodated special requests from soldiers to paint mascot pin- ups. Esquire also allowed Vargas to do a series of patriotic pin-ups for William Randolph Hearst’s American Weekly magazine; the only other magazine work permitted him during the Esquire years.
Vargas continued to paint Hollywood stars while he worked for the magazine. His 1941 movie poster of Betty Grable in Moon Over Miami was a great success; among the other leading ladies he painted were such stars as Jane Russell, Ann Sheridan, Ava Gardner Linda Darnell, Marlene Dietrich, Loretta Young, and Marilyn Monroe.
Famous Pin Up Girls of the 1940s