It’s been a lot of fun learning and posting about the talented vintage pin-up artists we’ve featured in this series so far….
We’ve done Gil Elvgren, Rolf Armstrong, Enoch Bolles, Wilson Hammell, and George Petty …..
Earl Moran is planned for next week.
And the comments I’ve gotten so far have been pretty positive, so I guess I’m not the only one out there who enjoys the genre.
Once in a while, I will receive a rather cynical note on these posts about how pin-ups were created “by men for men” — as part and parcel of some conspiracy to “keep women down” or create unrealistic male expectations of how women “should be”.
This not being a political or social-causes blog, ( a fact that never ends to be of inordinate joy for me ), I will not go into all that malarkey.
Instead, I will introduce you to several very talented and popular vintage pin up artists who also happened to be women .
Inlcuded in this list would be Pearl Frush, and Joyce Ballantyne.
This week, it will be one of my absolute all-time favorites, Zoë Mozert.
Zoë started out life as Alice Adelaide Moser, of Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1907.
In 1924, she moved to Philadelphia, in order to attend classes at the famous Philadelphia School of Industrial Art on a scholarship, where she was tutored by Thornton Oakley, a protégé of Howard Pyle.
She paid for her school supplies by modeling for art classes at the nearby Philadelphia Women’s School of Design.
She continued to model after graduation, as a way of supporting herself while she worked on getting commissions as an artist:
Alice enjoyed both her modeling and her art, and would often pose for her own portraits, using a mirror or a camera.
She sold her first magazine cover to True Story Magazine in 1932, a pastel she had done of her sister Marcia, for $75.
Alice had decided early on that she wanted to become famous — and that she needed a name that would be more conducive to that goal.
So, by 1934 she had changed her name to Zoë Mozert —
Later, when asked about it, she claimed:
“I looked through a name dictionary for a new first name and when there were finally no pages left I settled on Zoe.”
Meanwhile, fellow artist and advertising specialist Doan Powell helped design her unique trademark signature to be as distinctly expressive as her name.
Zoe’s work was now coming into it’s own, and with it, demand for her skills on projects outside of magazine covers.
She worked up ads for major commercial sponsors like Kool Cigarettes and Dr. Pepper.
More cover commissions followed, and by 1937, Zoe had created over 400 of art works for magazines like Screen Book and True Romance.
She was asked to be a judge at the 1938 Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, along with poster artist James Montgomery Flagg (“Uncle Sam Wants You”) and Pin Up Legend George Petty.
Zoe painted her first nude while on a cruise to South America, and it landed in a gallery in New York City, which led to her ‘big break’ in 1942.
The Art Director at Brown and Bigelow, the country’s biggest advertising art publisher, saw the painting and offered Zoe a contract —
….. a contract that ultimately lasted 26 years.
She was posing for much of her own work, and some for others as well.
Now Zoe was working as an integral part of the “Big Four” at Brown and Bigelow — which also included Rolf Armstrong, Earl Moran and Gil Elvgren.
The working atmosphere at Brown and Bigelow encouraged and inspired creativity, and Zoe thrived there.
She said that she had a great relationship with Earl Moran, worked well with Gil Elvgren, but that Armstrong was “aloof”.
During the war, she painted a set of “Victory Girl” Mutascope Cards which were distributed to the troops.
(‘Mutascope’ was a sort of mechanical flipbook coin-operated viewer commonly found in arcades at the time )
Zoe found herself in high demand out in Hollywood as well:
She did several very popular advertising posters for movies like Howard Hughes’s 1945 production of “The Outlaw” ,
….. as well as the 1946 film “Calendar Girl”- a movie about the Gibson Girls.
Her most famous work, ” Song of the Desert “, was published by Brown and Bigelow in 1950 — it sold out.
The ‘horizontal’ format of that calendar had been pioneered by Zoe and Rolf Armstrong.
Zoe continued to paint until 1985, when she injured herself in a fall.
She died in 1993, at the age of 86.
She leaves a wealth of beautiful work,
……… and her legacy serves as an inspiration for artists, male and female alike.
If you like Pin Ups,
check out my other posts on these famous Pin Up Artists :