Guides to Fine Arts Like Painting, Designing, Architecture, Sculpture, Photography and More

By Sarah Covington


Since the creation of pin up art over a century ago, it has gradually grown from an avant-garde and disregarded art form to a important symbol of classic American pop-culture. Pin up art originated from the social paradigm shift from conservative to more liberal social values resulting from the sexual revolution of the early 20th century. While the precursor to pin up illustrations began to appear in magazines as early as the 1890s, it was the flapper community of the 1920s that truly gave rise to the movement.

The advance of printing technology produced a tremendous audience for this media as well as a dependence on experienced artists who could quickly create graphics with mass appeal. Pin up pictures obtained progressively more mainstream presence with the publication of Esquire magazine during the early 1930s. A pin up model is commonly regarded as a young woman whose appearance would motivate a person to "pin up" her image on the wall. The widespread publication of Esquire, which would usually contain images and artwork of the sex symbols of that time period, allowed individuals to display these images. This growing appeal and general acknowledgement of this artwork was a symbol of the national paradigm shift taking place.

By the outset of The Second World War, pin up art was truly an American trend. Movie star illustrations were common in soldiers' barracks, on fighter aircrafts, and in numerous publications in the United States. Pin up eventually found approval as a form of artwork as the drawings grew to be progressively more sought after.

In the 1950's and 1960's, pin up transitioned into photography and started to be far more blatantly sexual. This newer pin up imagery gradually diverged away from artwork and the playful innocence created in the authentic creations. Consequently, the development of genuine pin up illustrations basically ceased until the advent of the online world, which restored fascination with the style. It concurrently provided a channel to present the classic graphics created during the prime of pin up, while enabling modern artists to produce innovative illustrations with a retro charm.

Pin up has regained the attention of today's art world and it is thought of as a legitimately American art form. Though lots of contemporary pin up artists strive for a more photo-realistic or airbrushed style that is sometimes seen as contrary to iconic pin up art, there are several that aim to recapture the innocence and creativity of the vintage style. Regardless, pin up will permanently be considered a symbol of Americana as it has once again renewed advancement in the art field.




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