Gil Elvgren - the Norman Rockwell of cheesecake


I used to like Elvgren’s stuff, until I realized that the majority of his pin ups were in poses where they were accidentally exposing more of themselves than they intended, and had facial expressions of embarrassed surprise. I much prefer pinups of people showing intention and agency, if ya know what I mean.


Disappointed that this wasn’t cheesecake of the edible sort…

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Obligatory amalgamation of Elvgren paintings, normalized…


I actually had that one created a while back - never thought it would be relevant… :smile:


Whenever there’s a post about sexy ladies, you know it’s a Frauenfelder post.

“Wholesome”? You’re kidding, right?

You’re gonna hate Art Frahm.

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Good point. Definitely more of a “sometimes” thing.

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When younger (and it was more ‘allowable’) I loved the pin-up art of people like Elvgren and Vargas. I still like it now, years later, but looking at it now makes me feel like a sexist who is enjoying the objectivisation of women. Do people look at that stuff now in a headstate of post-modern irony? ('It’s OK because I know it’s mid 20th century sexist objectification, therefore I am viewing it through the superior eyes of a 21st century liberal sensibility, so it’s ok.")

I just want to know whether I’m evil or not.


He illustrated those fifties Coke ads with the smiling white American families. Isn’t that the gold standard of wholesome? Are you a communist?

Seriously though, I like the guy. The Taschen book is excellent.

Edit: “Families”. Sexy ones.

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Peruvian painter Alberto Vargas may be the most famous pin-up artist, but Gil Elvgren was the greatest

I’ll take a lovely Varga over a cartoonish Elvgren any day. Varga’s women have strength and intent with none of the peeping tom voyeurism Elvgren would often employ. They are also presented as self aware women who seem to employ their sexuality in contrast to Elvgren who often mixed shame with accidental sexuality.

Mormon ones?

I wonder if Mark is a fan of this comic?

I find it interesting that people seem to remember the whole of Elvgren’s work in this light.

Yes, I guess the pinups were indeed ‘often’ shown in those coy and nonsensical ‘oopsie upskirt’ Art Frahm-y poses we all love to mock. But a random sampling of my Elvgren book (or even image search) showed many, many examples of more confident, strong, fun-having-and-in-charge Vargasian sexy right along the weirder ‘oh my’ tableaux. Don’t those count?

Yes, of course they do. Elvgren did some excellent work. But to call him the greatest pin up artist misses the mark in my book. Vargas is simply a better artist and chooses better poses IMNSHO.

The problem with random sampling of Elvgren is that you are going to see pics posted by people according to their taste. That leaves much of Elvgren’s tasteless work at the bottom of your internet search.

I find the concept of objectivifation to be somewhat muddled. For example, do you object to modelling full stop? Do you think that modelling reduces the model (and/or their gender) to being nothing but an aesthetic object for the visual enjoyment of others? Or, is it not more reasonable to suppose that people who enjoy the physical beauty of a model do so in the full knowledge that the model (and everybody else in his his/her gender) are complex, autonomous beings who happen to be earning a crust via the fact that people enjoy looking at physical beauty (and probably because they enjoy doing it, or find it more agreeable than a variety of other forms of labor-based objectifaction by which he/she might otherwise earn a living)? I might enjoy, say, the tennis playing of Nadal, but it doesn’t follow from that that I regard him (and members of his gender) as having no purpose other than tennis objects for my enjoyment.

Now, if I happened to become acquainted with Nadal (or some member of his gender) and refused to engage with them on any level other than tennis, or if I became acquainted with a model (or some member of their gender) and refused to engage with them on any other level other than visual aesthetics, then I would indeed be guilty of a very negative form of objectification; but I can’t see how the enjoyment of a tennis player, or fashion model, or erotic model, in any way necessitates a denial of the autonomy, complexity, and capacity to be a hundred other things in other contexts and situations, of that person and their gender generally.

To try and reign in my rambling here, I don’t see how enjoying vintage (or contemporary) erotic art amounts in any sense to enjoying the denial of female (or male) autonomy and complexity. How do you see them amounting to the same thing?

“Celery is present.”


I’m at a loss why beach babes are supposed to make me think of car polish.

Something something waxing the hot rod.”

Jeez, man, throw a towel over it!

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