IDEA 22 Student

Gil Elvgren

Elvgren was an American painter of pin-up girl paintings. He studied at the American Academy of Art. Gil was Influenced by the “pretty girl” illustrators like Charles dana Gibson, Andrew Loomis and Howard Chandler Christy. 

After studying in Chicago at the American Academy of Art he got hired at Stevens and Gross, one of the most prestigious advertising agency. He soon after became the protege of Haddon Sundblom.

He then began painting calendar pin up women for Louis F. Dow, a popular publishing company. Many of Elvgren’s works were replicated onto the nose of military aircrafts. Gil was then approached by Brown and Bigelow a firm that still dominates the field in producing calendars and advertising specialties.

In the 1950’s he began painting in his home, with his clients ranging from Brown and Bigelow, Coca-Cola, General Electric and Sealy Mattress Company. Elvgren also illustrated for a slew of magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post and Good Housekeeping. He used models for these pinups and celebrity women of the day such as Barbara Hale, Lola Albright, Kim Novak, Donna Reed and Myrna Hansen.

I know the current view of pinup paintings isn’t in the best light, but personally I love them! I think they’re kind of funny and they are kind of a thing of the past it doesn’t really bother me. 

Gil Elvgren’s are painted so well and subtle. I love the colours and the beautiful women, it’s very attractive work that can sometimes make you roll your eyes at the times but also laugh. Though I feel like I have a specific face when I think of the pin up women painted. I feel like so many of them have the same face. Unsure if it was just a “type” or all the women legitimately had shared features. 

Henry Patrick Raleigh

1920-1940 The Golden Age Part 1 Lecture

Henry Patrick Raleigh was one of the highest paid illustrators in the country during his time. In 1925 an art critic proclaimed him “America’s greatest illustrator”.

Henry’s life started in Portland Oregon in 1880 and unfortunately started in grave poverty. He had to start working at the age of nine selling newspapers. Which is something that no one in North America can really fathom anymore. By 12 years old he had to drop out of school and started working on the docks in San Fransisco. This obvious negative was actually a huge positive in Raleigh’s life because working on these docks are what inspired his career. Henry would hear the magnificent tales that the sailors shared when they returned to port. Raleigh felt the need to begin sketching them and sharing these sketches with coworkers. Everyone was impressed with his drawing abilities and his boss actually ended up offering to pay his tuition to attend the Hopkins Academy in San Fransisco. Which is quite the story already, from day one having a hard rough poverty ridden life, to meeting an incredible group of people and having one person believe in you so much they sponser your talent! Is there a movie about him already?

A few years after graduating from the Hopkins Academy he landed a job at with the San Francisco Bulletin Newspaper. By 19 he was one of the highest paid artists at the San Francisco Examiner. He also illustrated as a reporter/artist for pretty intense scenarios. This meant he spent quite a bit of time in a morgue apparently…. Which strengthened his sense of anatomy with illustration. Some people take classes, some people sit in morgues. Henry’s a little more interesting.

Raleigh was extremely successful making over $100,000 salaries over his career and extremely prolific having done around 20,000 illustrations for magazines.

I love his art with it’s very loose and full of life style but his story is movie material and that definitely makes me like him even more. He was extremely entertaining to read about actually.

Clarence Coles Phillips

1900-1920 Illustration’s Early Masters

He worked for very popular magazines like Good Housekeeping and Life. He’s known for his illustrations of beautiful women and excellent use of lost lines. I’m not sure what it is about lost lines, but they just seem to make his works so interesting and compositionally appealing. Phillip’s use of colours always seem to work so satisfyingly that when I looked up his illustrations I didn’t want to go look through the other names. His use of lost lines was commonly referred to as the “fadeaway girl”. I love the design elements to his works. It’s so beautiful just to look at. The content doesn’t seem mind blowing, but they are absolutely beautiful and interesting to look at, a very interesting mix of realistic detail and the absolute minimum. Definitely an artist I’m happy to have researched.

Cole Phillips had no real formal art training. He took night art classes for about three months before working at an ad agency. He only worked there for a short time to learn the business and then opened his own agency with a few former students. Apparently running an agency wasn’t exactly up his alley and he became a freelance illustrator. His most famous illustrations were advertising works geared towards the women of the day.

A non art fact related fact that I learned through researching C.C. Phillips, is that he raised pigeons from childhood to adulthood. I have also accidentally chosen a second artist who was diagnosed with tuberculosis and eventually passed from the same illness.


Aubrey Beardsley

The Dancer’s Reward

Aubrey Beardsley was quite the controversial illustrator. His illustrations were grotesque, erotic and taboo. He contributed to the development of Art Nouveau and poster styles. Aubrey utilized the themes of decay, death, and eroticism to shock viewers out of their complacency. He consistently critiqued and commented on concepts of sexuality, beauty, gender roles and consumerism. Beardsley’s works were block prints which allowed for them to be easily reproduced and widely circulated.

Salome with her Mother

Aubrey Beardsley is quoted saying, “I have one aim — the grotesque. If I am not grotesque I am nothing.” Which an interesting quote due to his complete flip of character after converting to Roman Catholicism. He ended up begging his publisher and close friend to destroy all copies of his “bad” drawings. Luckily both men completely ignored his wishes.

The Peacock Skirt

Before I knew about Aubrey Beardsley I knew about this artist named Bill Crisafi. Who is obviously influenced by Beardsley. I like both of them for similar reasons, how they can really pull off lots of detail and still have this clean minimal look. Atheistically that really appeals to me. Another reason Beardsley and Crisafi appeal to me is their attention and love of the grotesque. In Crisafi’s case it almost feels on brand but in Beardsley’s case it feels honest.

The Flight of the Witches – Bill Cristafi


Survey 9 | The “Do” that Defined a Decade

Lecture:  Colour Theory and Cool Type 1925-1930

We learned tons about BauHaus and the design ideal that fostered there. The simple design combined with mass production.  How one of the biggest booms culturally was the hollywood culture of glamour and actors becoming celebrities, which changed fashion and how we look at fashion.  The mind blowing fact that it took till 1929 for women to be considered persons under the law… It was also the start of the Great Depression. It was a decade with so much happening all over the world, changing it completely.

Research: Fashion



Anna May Wong

The original “it” girl, Clara Bow always wore her hair short with finger waves.

Clara Bow

As you can see the various other famous women in fashion and film wore their hair slightly different but all kept to the idea of short wavy or sleek bobs. Most of this was inspired by the flapper girl style. Most women who did silent films all wore their hair this way as well. Some took some “daring” unique takes on the bob. Look at Josephine Baker for example, she was an absolute icon who kept her hair extremely short in a sleek style, sometimes sporting an individual fringe curl. Each woman that defined the decade, wore their hair in this specific style. It let the accessories and fringe dresses take the stage front instead of the hair. 

Coco Chanel



Lisa Yuskavage | Contemporary & Post Modernism

Lisa Yuskavage [b. 1962]

Lisa Yuskavage is such a thrilling artist. Her work really throws you for a loop. Looking at her work made me feel like I wasn’t giving her paintings privacy, yet when I showed my step-mother her work she felt it was vulgar and was almost offended by their sexuality.

The more I researched her work the more I loved it. Her paintings make you think about how you may perceive the female form. I think it is an interesting conversation.

Her surreal landscapes, dramatic lighting and emotional colours give her paintings an other worldliness that feels cinematic.

Yuskavage’s work feels like it is re-creating the “male gaze” but instead of between people it’s a dynamic between the vulnerable painting and the viewer. (Obviously not every single painting is this same theme but the majority feel this way to me.)

Her female figures are cartoonish, sexual, vulgar, angelic, young, and a variety of other seemingly conflicting characteristics. But perhaps that points to the fact that just because we perceive a female body as vulgar that it can be angelic at the same time, that bodies can be more than one thing at one time.    

Roy Lichtenstein | Abstract Expressionism & Pop Art

Roy Lichtenstein | 1923 – 1997

Roy was born in New York City and was constantly immersed in the NYC American culture. Since a teenager, Roy sculpted, painted and drew. He spent a lot of his time the American Museum of Modern Art as well as the Natural History Museum.

In the fall of 1946 after his father passed, Roy was invited to join the faculty at OSU as an instructor. While teaching he also worked on getting his Masters Degree which he did receive in 1949.

In June of 1961 Lichtenstein began fooling around with the idea which had originally started while he was at OSU, which was to combine comic characters with abstract backgrounds.

“It occurred to me to do it by mimicking the cartoon style without the paint texture, calligraphic line, modulation — all the things involved in expressionism”.


His work is extremely popular, and definitely used without proper knowledge of the artist all over the internet. I see people posting his comic book character art all over social media sites like instagram or pinterest (which I also frequent with slight shame).

I liked researching him since his style is something that so many people enjoy maybe because that 1950’s comic book style is so beloved by so many people.  Plus some of it makes me laugh because it is quite dramatic. (Which lets me know I’m not alone). I think my favourite things he does is his sculpture. I really quite love it because it seems too bright and odd to be physical.

Max Ernst | Cubism, Dadaism, & Surrealism

Max Ernst | 1891 – 1976

Other than art, Max Ernst was very interested with psychology and psychiatry and actually studied both in University. He was inspired by Sigmund Freud and this fascination with the mind made its way into his work. Ernst often shows images of birds in his work.

This comes from his weird link as a young child when his pet bird died and moments later his father informed him his sister was born. I guess this might be part of why he has this peculiar personal link between birds and humans. In his art you see his alter ego known as “Loplop” which is shown as a bird.

Ernst was a solider during the first World War and came out of it deeply disturbed and traumatized along with a large criticism of western culture.

His work was viewed as quite controversial (such as “the  Virgin spanking Christ”) and was quite prolific and influential in art at the time.

I didn’t think I really loved any of his work, but after researching him and looking through about 300 pieces, I found tons I connected with. Definitely an artist I’m glad I got the chance to appreciate.




Otto Dix | Expressionism, Fauvism & Early 20th Century

Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix | 1891 – 1969

Wilhelm was a German Painter and printmaker. His works focused on the brutality of war and German society. Dix was profoundly affected by the first world war, where he fought for the German Army. Otto Dix had a recurring nightmare where he is crawling among destroyed homes.

Otto Dix had been surrounded by art since an early age. His ambition to become an artist was nurtured in his cousin’s (Fritz Amann) studio. I thought this was quite interesting since I grew up surrounded by art (my father is an artist). I always felt very lucky having someone encourage and nurture a love of art and expression. He also took an apprenticeship with the painter Carl Senff and began painting landscapes, and was then later accepted into an art driven school.

Post war, Otto became influenced by expressionism along with Dadaism and started incorporating collage elements into some of his works. In 1924 he had developed a very realistic style of painting where he used thin layers of oil paint over a tempura underpainting.

One of the best things when researching Otto Dix was learning how controversial two particular paintings were. One titled “the Trench” showed dismembered soldiers after battle.

The museum it was displayed in hid the painting behind a curtain. The mayor of Cologne cancelled the purchase of the Trench and then forced the director of the museum to resign. Another painting titled “the War Cripples” was burned.

I couldn’t find why it was burned. I’m assuming it was very upsetting. Plus the Nazi regime did not like Otto and actually forced him to leave his position as a teacher at the Dresden Academy.




Odilon Redon | Impressionism & Post Impressionism

Odilon Redon | 1891-1916 was actually named Bertrand-Jean Redon. Odilon was  a nickname given to him stemming from his mother’s name which was Odile.

Redon had always been an excellent drawer, even as a very young boy, but later dabbled in quite a few different mediums.

He took up sculpture, etching and lithography, later in life he took up pastels and oils which would dominate his work.

His father wanted him to be an architect but unfortunately Odilon failed the entrance test to the school his father wanted him to attend.  His art career took a break when he went to serve in the army during the 1870 Franco-Prussian War.

Odilon Redon’s works were meant to be explorations of his inner feelings and psyche. His work was to represent the ghosts of his own mind. So lots of his works (the ones I like best) show strange creatures with a healthy dash of nightmare fuel.

“The logic of visible at the service of the invisible” – Odilon Redon speaking about his art.