Covers for hundreds of periodicals,
ranging from film, glamour and men’s humor magazines….
Mutoscope style exhibit cards, calendars —
And, advertising art for large sponsors like Zippo Lighters and Sun Maid Raisins.
Today, although his work is usually readily familiar,
………………… the artist himself is relatively unknown.
Yet, Enoch Bolles was a genuine pioneer —
One of the very first artists who conveyed the sexy side of women in the style that we have come to call “Pin Up Art”.
When discussing the genre with my fellow enthusiasts,
I often hear Bolles mentioned,
………….. but almost always in terms of his magazine covers.
And it’s true,
……….. his covers were wonderful, and are highly prized today by collectors.
He did over 200 covers for “Film Fun” alone…
……………… and hundreds more for other pulp mags of the time.
He is very well regarded for his “Windy Girl” illustration for the Zippo Lighter company
Done in 1937, it has become an icon of advertising art, and inspired their current Vargas “Windy Girl” ads…..
….. as you study advertising art of the period, you run into many examples of work that was inspired by this very campaign.
Born in 1883, and a native of Marion County, Florida, Bolles moved to New Jersey as a child, and lived there most of his life.
Bowles was a graduate of the famous National Academy of Design, in New York City.
His early work was very different than the prevailing style of illustration at the time, and an artist familiar with Enoch’s work recommended him to Dell Publishers,
so he was invited to submit a piece…
………. and thus, had his first work published on the cover of Judge Magazine in 1914.
Covers for ‘Puck’ and ‘Film Fun’ soon followed.
‘Spicy Stories’, the most popular men’s magazine of the period, used his art for their covers almost exclusively,
Other pulp publications he did work for included:
‘Bedtime Stories’ , ‘Snappy Stories’,
‘Tattletales’, ‘Gay Parisienne’,
‘Titter’, ‘Breezy Stories’,
‘Laughter’, ‘Movie Humor’,
‘Pep’, et al.
His work was perfect for the light-hearted nature of these kinds of magazines,
And through them, Bowles popularized a certain sophisticated double-entendre kind of cover art.
He chose his own captions for the art-
” Make Way for This Siren ” ,
and ” Time to Start Gazing” .
There is a joyfulness and playfulness that tie the illustrations to the captions in a very unique way.
Bolles likes to create his work on canvas in mostly primary colors,
…. in contrast to how the majority of magazine artists of the period were doing it.
………… and particular attention is often paid to footwear.
Certainly, a few excellent artists emulated Bolles’ style,
like Earle Bergey, George Quintana….
Even his famous Zippo ad has been often mistakenly attributed to Alberto Vargas.
(Early Vargas works are distinctly Bolles-like.)
But I’ve often been able to quickly tell whether or not a work was his, by the amount of detail and style of the shoes.
He did a number of gorgeous works featuring Hollywood celebrities of the time….
His cover of Norma Shearer for ‘Talking Screen’ is a perfect example of his approach.
He also worked with several major movie studios to produce advertising pieces for motion picture releases,
His professional career spanned about 30 years,
from 1914 to 1943—
when he was hospitalized for a long term illness, and retired.
After his retirement, up to his death in 1976,
he never produced another commercial artwork, despite living to age 93.
He did, however, create some commissioned portraits….
….. and still painted for his own personal pleasure, up until his death.
But, during those 30 years, as a professional illustrator,
Bolles produced a startling variety of artwork,
some of which has become part of the backdrop of American culture.
Just when I think I’ve seen them all,
…. I find one I haven’t seen before, or didn’t know was his.
Part of the reason for that is that he often neglected to sign his work, or insure attribution for it.
So, there is a good chance that unknown Bolles works still exist.
And since his original canvases are extremely rare and valuable—
There’s just one more reason to keep your eyes out for vintage Pin-Ups .
If you like Pin Ups,
check out my other posts on these famous Pin Up Artists :
And of course, there’s plenty of other posts about art in my archives.
———— and thanks for dropping by !
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