The iconic illustrations of Gil Elvgren have become an irreplaceable facet of the American artistic landscape. Flirtatious beauties in light-hearted situations were the dominant subject matter for this intuitive artist, whose eloquent brush strokes dutifully captured the innocent sensuality of the mischievous girl next door. A Lot at Steak, originally published in the 1955 Brown & Bigelow calendar, epitomizes the coquettish spirit of his beauties, whose nostalgic glamor give us a glimpse into a simpler time in American history.
Elvgren is considered to be the greatest American pin-up and glamor artist. The majority of his work was done for the famed Brown & Bigelow, though at various points in his career he also worked for magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post and Good Housekeeping, as well as large corporations including Sealy Mattresses, General Electric, and Coca-Cola.
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Elvgren began his artistic education at the Minneapolis Art Institute, and later the American Academy of Art. His first job upon graduation was at the Chicago advertising firm of Stevens and Gross, working directly under Haddon Sundblom, famous for his Coca-Cola Santas. Elvgren would soon become his star pupil, contributing much to the Coca-Cola campaigns and eagerly learning techniques that he would carry into his famed pin-ups.
After completing several special commissions with rave reviews, Elvgreen began doing pin-up work in 1937 for the Louis F. Dow Calendar Company, the biggest retailer of calendars of its day. Almost overnight, the artist became one of the most respected and successful commercial artists. More commissions followed, and, along with his work for Dow, Elvgren found himself booked solid at least one year ahead of his output. It was in 1944 that Brown & Bigelow approached him with an offer for a staff position. From that point on, for the next 30 years, Elvgren enjoyed tremendous commercial success unlike any other American artist of his day.
A Lot at Steak was originally published in the 1955 Brown & Bigelow calendar and is featured in Gil Elvgren: All His Glamorous American Pin-Ups, 1996, by C.G. Martignette and L.K. Meisel,number 254.
Signature: Signed "Elvgren" (lower right) and dedicated "To Eddie / From Gil" (lower left)
About Gil Elvgren
Considered one of the most important pin-up painters of the 20th century, Gil Elvgren created iconic images of the all-American feminine ideal. From the mid 1930s through 1972, Elvgren produced over 500 oil paintings for commercial use, including illustrations for Coca-Cola, calendars, major magazines, and advertising agencies. A protégé of Haddon Sundblom, Elvgren drew from the tradition of “pretty girl” illustrations, depicting women as sexualized and domesticated consumers of household goods and embodying the American dream of a comfortable family lifestyle. Elvgren’s work influenced many other pin-up artists, including Mel Ramos and John Kacere.
American, 1914-1980, St. Paul, Minnesota