Pin up art has been prevalent in modern-culture for decades, but only through its influence in the military did it gain its ‘iconic’ status. Calendars, posters, and magazines were in high demand during the individual wars between 1940 and 1960, because it was amidst these years that young men were separated from their ‘loved ones’ in primary wars such as WWI and II. These men often enlisted thinking they’d be back home in a few months, (with good stories to tell and the pride and honour of serving their country). Unfortunately, battle dragged on for a lot longer. A war with no end in sight will wear on any man, body and mind. To put it lightly, a soldier’s life was deprived and lonely; living circumstances below adequacy and their only perpetual companions fellow men at arms. How could these men withstand their circumstances, so far from home and everything they once knew? Especially without the certain delights only females could offer? The answer is; Pin up art.
Men in all fields of the military bought into the allure of these curvaceous and enticing pin-up girls. From revealing photographs, collectible playing card sets, and magazines such as Esquire and Men Only, pin up art really grew into an industry; so much so that this era was soon deemed ‘The Golden Age of Pinup’. It influenced a whole generation of men, especially artists. In fact, the well-known painter ‘Alberto Vargas’ did his best work when illustrating for magazines targeted towards ‘solitary’ men in the military. In a time where modesty was both expected and even enforced, pin up art gave more room for experimentation for many aspiring artists.
WWII especially influenced the growth of Pin up art, particularly in the air force. The late 1930’s and on saw major advancements in the engineering of fighter planes, in turn causing the air force to expand and the demand for pilots to sky-rocket. Each pilot was given their own plane, and more leeway on what insignia they could put on it. Many of these servicemen chose to personalize their aircraft by putting original ‘customizations’ on them. This was more or less the birth of ‘nose art’, or at least the involvement Pin up art had in it, because what better to represent their ‘fighter’ personalities than bombshell women? Before you know it, these men were hiring skilled artists to paint voluptuous women on their planes, (some even chose to paint them themselves). Pin up art began to become more than just ‘naughty and inappropriate material’, and instead stood for Patriotism and the spirit of the Allied forces. It reminded soldiers of home; the wives, friends, and life they left behind. Nose art acted as a creative outlet for pilots, for they were able to express their pride, resentment, and other propaganda they believed in freely and easily.
The growth pin up art experienced between the early 40’s and late 60’s was phenomenal. In all sectors of the military this art grew to become iconic of the daring and free nature the Allies fought to represent. Even in today’s society the popularity of pin up art is still strong; because who hasn’t had a friend who boasted a tattooed and dauntless woman on their shoulder?