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Pictures from an age when eroticism was still innocent

1000 Pin-Up Girls (Bibliotheca Universalis)

1000 Pin-Up Girls

US$ 20


Bkini-clad babes, air stewardesses, and girls next door: the darlings of Pin-up art seduced postwar America with their cheeky and carefree attitude. Produced between 1920 and 1970, the idealized female faces and figures were by no means limited to discrete male customers, but rather had widespread, mainstream appeal, featuring on calendars, magazine covers, centerfolds and soon infiltrating every aspect of American existence. Pin-up illustrations in all their varied forms thus tell us much about the fabric of everyday life in the US at the time; a milieu brimming with new optimism, a booming consumer society, and an awakening eroticism.

The majority of original paintings produced by advertisers and publishers like the Brown & Bigelow Company were discarded after printing, making the surviving art that much more precious. Today, Pin-up, along with its cousin burlesque, has surged in popularity, igniting interest in the rare original prints still in existence. Paintings by leading artists such as Alberto Vargas, George Petty, Peter Driben, and Gil Elvgren fetch hefty prices at auction and often disappear into private collections. TASCHEN Books has been excavating the very best of this vintage phenomenon and publishing reproductions of Pin-up images across its range of books. Steered by Sexy Books editor Dian Hanson, TASCHEN titles on Pin-up art include the XXL tome The Art of Pin-Up, as well as smaller monographs on individual artists and books exploring fancies that would later be adapted into the realm of fetish, such as The Big Book of Legs.

Pin-up models immortalize a 50s fantasy of femininity. In cheesecake layers of nylon stockings, garters, and gowns, these cheery girls with Betty Paige bangs posed in the fashion and characters of the era; showgirls, military wives, and Playboy bunny prototypes. Now inspiring contemporary interpretations, Pin-up pictures have an important role to be recognized in the history of art and erotica.