Friday, 28 December 2012

Seaside Venuses by Pearl Frush

Here is a rare nude from Pearl Frush, one of America's top female pin-up artists.  It was probably painted around 1940.

Peal Frush was born in Iowa but her family moved to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi when she was small. She travelled to New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia to study art.  Her main training came at the Chicago Art Institute, however.  

She opened her first studio in Chicago in the early forties and by the fifties was a top female pin-up artist working for calendar companies such as Gerlach-Barlow and Brown & Bigelow.  This picture is from Gerlach-Barlow's Aquatour series calendar from 1947; a best seller in its time.

She worked mainly in watercolour and gouache and her paintings have a very polished quality.  Not surprisingly many of her girls were to be found at the beach in their swimsuits.  

Her backgrounds were often painted as deliberately out of focus, not just to emphasise the figure but also to fool the eye in to thinking that they were possibly photographs.

Outside of her painting Frush was a sporty sort of woman enjoying tennis, sailing swimming and canoeing.  It's not surprising therefore that her pin-ups exude a sort of healthy, outdoorsy quality. 

Although she did do some boudoir style work it is these sorts of images for which she was best known.

Unlike Elvgren's hopelessly impractical girls who can't undertake the most basic of activities without flashing their underwear Frush's women look perfectly capable of changing the tyre on their cars on their own if they had a puncture on the way to the beach.

Her girls are perfectly wholesome and exude none of the slutty gold-digger sexiness of Vargas' girls.

They really were, in a pre-Playboy world, the epitome of the girl next door; provided the girl next door to you was really pretty and had killer legs.

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