Elvgren – Help Us!

Gils Elvgren (1914-1980) is one of the most famous and ubiquitous painters of American pin-ups of the last century. Being not American, even I am aware of his influence, but maybe that has more to do with my interest in this subject, than anything else.

Elvgren painted hundreds of women in his time, although it seems he used only a few women as his models. The paintings are eclectic in nature, yet so very similar. All of them feature very pretty women with beautful figures, in varying situations. Some posing purely as pin-up fodder, others slightly left of centre. Despite the sometimes obvious sexist nature of his pictures, even for their time, it’s hard not to look upon them with admiration and maybe a bit of a giggle in this day and age…

One theme I couldn’t help but notice when looking through the collection of his works in my possession, is the contrary nature in which he portrayed women. In many paintings the women look strong, assertive and in control of their situation. In others, not so much…

Today, I’m focussing on the not-so-much’s….


Help Wanted! – 1956

You have to love firstly the woman’s pursed lips, an Elvgren trademark. Next, what on earth is she doing with that chair? Obviously her skirt is an encumbrance. Most of us can relate to the horrors of deckchair unfolding. Although I do suspect the bottle in the bottom left hand corner of the picture plays a part in this… “Oh, please help me, Mr Man! My skirt seems to be caught in this darstadly deck chair!” “Don’t worry darling, you just have another sip of that Bacardi Breezer and everything will be alright…”


Let’s Eat Out – 1967

“Oh, no! Mr Man, I burnt the brownies! Whatever shall we do?? ” “Honey, don’t you worry your pretty little head about a thing. Let’s eat out, but don’t change your underwear.”


I don’t have a title for this one, but rest assured that I always hang pictures in my home dressed in suspenders, perky bra and high heels. I also have a tendency to be very accident prone, so if you catch me at the right time, you might just be able to help… “Ouch!”


Red, White, and Blue -1966

Clumsy, clumsy girl. Look, she’s ruined her pretty white dress, when I could have picked it up for a song in an Op-Shop and claimed it as my own. Sard Wonder Soap can work wonders… “Oh, no Mr Man! I spilled sauce on my dress!” “Don’t worry, Angel… I’ll lick it right off”.

And so he did. Pursed lips and all.

Plenty more Elvgren postings to come. That man has absurd themes oozing right out of his body to this day…

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~ by at her discretion on December 4, 2007.

6 Responses to “Elvgren – Help Us!”

  1. I just love Elvgren’s pin up girls, in spite of the sexist portrayal of women. :-)

  2. Oh, me too. They make me happy – and you have to laugh at the sexist overtones. Hardcore feminazie may disagree, but one must have a sense of humour… ;)

  3. It may seem sexist but just remember, women hold all the power, that’s why they’re portrayed in a sexist light.

    PS I just love those good old fashioned garters! So does my boyfriend. I’m going to show home these pics!

  4. I appreciate the flip sense of humor. It might seem sexist, but I sense a tongue planted firmly in cheek.

  5. Stiletto – Oh, I know it’s all tongue in cheek, and I also know about the power. ;)

    You have garters (we call them suspenders) like that? I’m jealous…

    D – I think you’re right. Elvgren had quite the sense of humour. He’s one of my favourites. :)

  6. No, I don’t have those same exact garters. It has been a long time since I’ve whipped them out. Perhaps I’ll take a look today. My boyfriend will thank you!

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