Gil Elvgren Pinup Paintings and the Photos That Inspired Them Show that Photoshop Was Preceded By Oil Paints

I love a good vintage pinup image as much as the next gal — but sometimes it’s worth remembering that even that particular vision of beauty has been tweaked and edited to suit a certain set of standards. They may not have had Photoshop in the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, but they did have oil paints.

A whole series of classic pinup posters by artist Gil Elvgren surfaced on Reddit the other day — which might not be notable if it weren’t for the fact that each painting had also been uploaded alongside the photograph from which it was drawn. The women featured in the photographs all have that fun-loving spark that makes the images so distinct; but they’re definitely not as perfect as the final products are.  Most of them have been slimmed down in some places and made curvier in others; a lot of them have had their makeup and wardrobes perfected; and in some cases, they’ve even been given totally different hair colors or styles.

But that doesn’t make them any less magnetic. Indeed, I actually think the photographs are more interesting than the paintings. Nerve remarked on them as the true embodiment of the Marilyn Monroe quote, “imperfection is beauty”; I’d also like to add that life is in the details — even if those details are lumps, bumps, and messy hair. In fact, especially if they’re so.


Images: Gil Elvgren/Imgur

Must Reads