In “The Art of Pin-up,” Dian Hanson describes a pin-up simply as a “provocative but never explicit image of an attractive woman created specifically for public display in a male environment.”
But this imaginary female isn’t just attractive.
“Her sexiness is natural and uncontrived, and her exposure is always accidental:
A fishhook catches her bikini top, an outboard motor shreds her skirt, a spunky puppy trips her up or the ever-present playful breeze lifts her hem, revealing stocking tops and garter straps, but never the whole enchilada.”
By Bill Medcalf
Since they skyrocketed to popularity in the World War II era, pin-up images have occupied a variety of roles — military inspiration, commercial photography, kitsch nostalgia and cult aesthetic.
But the images of buxom hips and red lips rarely fall into the category of fine art.
Which is rather unfortunate.
Zoe Mozert painting Jane Russell for The Outlaw film poster
I’ve admired this image for quite some time, finding it in the Library of Congress’ collection of the Historical Section of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) color photographs.
It is anonymous, unfortunately, but since there were really only 23 or so staff photographers for this gigantic undertaking (including Esther Bubley, Marjory Collins, Mary Post Wolcott, Arthur Rothstein, Walker Evans, Russell Lee, Jack Delano, Gordon Parks, Charlotte Brooks, John Vachon, Carl Mydans, Dorothea Lange, and Ben Shahn, ten of which are truly monumental names in the history of 20th century American photography.)
I think that we could guess that it was done by the hands of a master.
It seems as though less than 2% of the 163,000 or so photographs made by this section during its eight-year run (1937-1945) were made in color, and I’m glad that this was one of them.
“For years I’ve travelled with my cameras capturing moments in time with the people the road has led me to… A glimpse into parallel worlds travelling in circular motions.”
These are the words of Hunter Barnes, one of the foremost documentary photographers working in America today, concentrating on communities and aspects of American culture often ignored by the mainstream.
The Reel Art Press will present Tickets, Hunter’s photographic account of the American travelling carnival, a vibrant community most had thought lost half a century ago. “A band of nomads. Roaming in open fairgrounds, spinning with colour and sound…”
Hunter’s time on the road with the World of Wonders Sideshow, capturing the people and places of the travelling circus’s grittier sibling.
The sword swallowers, fire eaters and tattooed ladies are all here, defiant and exuberant, captured in striking portraits.