• Contrasting Modern & Vintage Pin-Up Art

    The iconic American pin-up girl of the 40s and 50s. Photographs, drawings, and paintings of models intended to be pinned up on the wall. They’re famous for decorating the noses of fighters planes and...

    The iconic American pin-up girl of the 40s and 50s. Photographs, drawings, and paintings of models intended to be pinned up on the wall. They’re famous for decorating the noses of fighters planes and bombers of World War Two. But their origins lay long before that, and they’re still popular today.

    War Production Co-Ordinating Committee Poster
    We Can Do It!

    Although pin-up art didn’t get its name until the 1940s, its origins trace back to the later years of Victorian burlesque photography and it’s boom in New York during the late 1800s. Burlesque performers used provocative photographs to promote themselves and their shows.

    Early pin-up paintings and photographs featured nude or erotic artwork. It went from being a promotional tool to a popular commodity among soldiers in WWI. At the same time, as it was becoming popular in overseas conflicts, film was taking off at home.

    Actresses were competing for roles and they followed the example of burlesque performers. They took up proto-pin-up art to increase their public visibility and demand. This introduced vintage pin-up art to the mainstream.

    Over a couple of decades, pin-up art grew into its own art style with common looks and purpose.

    BDSM Photography
    Craig Morey | Dita Von Teese C-06

    The Vintage Pin-Up Art Look

    The vintage “pin-up look” is relatively simple. Clothing, hair, and makeup are all worn to emphasize and accentuate natural features. While the looks focus on natural beauty, the posing is based on sexuality. The women (and occasionally male) pin-up model poses in provocative poses, usually with a simple backdrop.

    Pin-up clothing and apparel compliments the natural curves of the body, usually accentuating the cleavage. The type of clothing is often sexually suggestive. For example, nightwear and lingerie are common themes because we associate them with the bedroom and love-making.

    Models may pose in various states of undress as well. Artistic prints depict them about to remove clothing, or completely nude.

    The makeup was also serves to emphasize natural features. In part, historians credit this to the limited makeup available due to war rationing. Foundations and powders were a key element, sometimes emphasized with blush on the cheeks. Eyebrows and eyes were contoured to make them stand out. And most iconically, the lips were made to look plump, vibrant and full.

    Romantic Art Bedroom
    Piacente | Facelift

    Purpose of Vintage Pin-Up Art

    The purpose of the pin-up art had some variation as the art form evolved. It started off as a promotional tool for burlesque performers and burgeoning entertainers. Eventually, pin-up artwork transitioned into its own commodity.

    During WWII soldiers were once again played a key role in popularizing vintage pin-up art. Pin-up images were used to boost morale on the front lines. The US government even took part, asking women to send lipstick kisses on letters to soldiers. These are kisses where the woman applies lipstick and kisses the letter so it leaves a full, plump lip shape – reminiscent of pin-up model makeup.

    Romantic Art Bedroom
    Lucas | Heart Shaped Lips

    Classic pin-up art went from being used as an advertisement for the model, to being sold as its own artwork on their own and in magazines, or even in advertisements to sell other products. BDSM photography magazines gave rise to celebrated pin-up girls like Bettie Page. Often hailed as the “Queen of the Pin-Ups”, Bettie Page ushered in a new era of female sexuality.

    Heralded as the catalyst to the sexual revolution of the 1960s, Bettie helped bring about the new purpose found in modern pin-up art.

    Pin-Up Inspired Art
    Pin-Up Inspired Art

    Modern Pin-Up Art & Culture

    Visually, the modern pin-up scene has a lot of carry-over from the 40s and 50s. The classic look actually had a bit of a resurgence with the focus on natural bodies and curves over the past decade. The art is still sexual, but has more focus on female empowerment and betterment.

    In part, this is exemplified by the importance of inner beauty. Pin-up contests focus on inner beauty, not just cosmetic appeal. Judging considers:

    • – Originality
    • – Presentation
    • – Stage Presence
    • – Crowd Appeal
    Romantic Art Bedroom
    KAZNACHEIEV | Awaiting II

    Often it is paired with feminism, having helped push the sexual revolution. In feminist art pin-up girls weaponize lipstick, challenging social norms and promoting positive body image. The famous “We Can Do It” stamp is a popular feminist icon today.

    It represents women coming into the workforce during the Second World War, an important stepping stone towards gender-equality.

    While early actresses helped to spread the genre, many of today’s entertainers are pushing modern pin-up art forward. Many pop culture icons, like Lana Del Ray, style their looks after the vintage pin-up look. Katy Perry, for example, makes use of pin-up apparel and makeup styles in her performances and videos.

    Retro Pin Up Art
    Shaun Tia | Save A Horse

    Modern & Vintage Pin-Up Art For Sale

    Explore the Art Provocateur Gallery to shop the most enticing modern and vintage pin-up art for sale. Discover art prints ranging from erotic and nude photography to pin-up paintings. Start building your collection today and learn the tantalizing thrills of decorating with nude art.

  • Erotic Photography

    Capturing Sexuality With Burlesque Photography

    Burlesque photography is art intended to run against the grain of normal society. By design, this style is not for everyone, as it is often seen as shocking or offensive in the mainstream. But in the...

    Burlesque photography is art intended to run against the grain of normal society. By design, this style is not for everyone, as it is often seen as shocking or offensive in the mainstream. But in the world of erotic photography, burlesque is one of the most popular styles.

    Burlesque itself dates back as far as the 17th century in Spain. However, modern burlesque photography prints usually portray themes and styles from Victorian London or New York in the 19th and 20th centuries.

    Burlesque is best recognized for sexual themes and risqué comedy in a variety show format.

    Burlesque Photography
    Corrie Ancone | Luscious Scent 2010


    The Rise, Fall, & Revival of Burlesque

    The early roots of burlesque focused on parody and satire. It began as a literary movement, mocking or ridiculing themes in literary works. Even the Bard himself, William Shakespeare is sometimes considered as a burlesque playwright.

    It was often sexual in nature and critiqued or parodied serious subjects or societal norms. Early burlesque relied on an intellectual and highly literate audience.

    Burlesque Photography
    Patrick Kaas | Red Room
    Victorian Burlesque

    In the 1830s Victorian burlesque grew in popularity. The style had evolved into theatrical parody. Famous operas, plays, and ballets were recreated, with an absurdists view on their conventions, subjects.

    Travesty roles, where women in revealing tights play male characters, became a central theme. Music, sexuality, and garish dress became central themes in burlesque shows.

    By the end of the 19th-century burlesque had fallen out of favour in London, replaced with Edwardian musical comedy. But the tradition lived on in America.


    New York Burlesque

    Burlesque was introduced to New York during the heyday of Victorian burlesque. The American style became more of a variety show. Burlesques would include, songs, sketch comedy, acrobats, magicians, and political or theatrical parody. The grand finale was a fight or exotic dance.

    At the same time Victorian burlesque was fading in London, American burlesque began to flourish in New York. The shows became more sexual in nature, slowly developing into striptease shows.

    The popularity began to fade during prohibition and later was stamped out as nudity became more commonplace in theatre and cinema.



    The 1990s resurrected burlesque performances. Although modern burlesque keeps up with some of the older themes and styles, the tone and purpose have changed. Where once the stripteases and dress were intended for sexual gratification of the audience, it is now used in the artist’s self-discovery and expression.

    Burlesque Art Prints
    Andrews Lucas | Catherine

    Burlesque Photography

    The focus on erotica and sexual gratification remain in the works of burlesque photographers. They produce tantalizing burlesque prints that capture sexual and social taboos over the past 200 years.

    The costume and dress of the subjects often date back to the Victorian era performances and harken to other elements of burlesque shows. Old-time aerialist, magician, and circus performer garb and activities are common.

    Burlesque Photo Print
    Stephen Perry | Masking The Mystery

    Some elements of neo-burlesque can play into this style of erotic photography. Boylesque, for instance, is relatively new. Boylesque is a role reversal where males are featured burlesques’ typical female roles. The men may be dressed in drag, or performing stripteases and erotic dances.

    Art Provocateur Gallery has prints, originals, and limited works from some of today’s best burlesque photographers. Browse our burlesque gallery today.