David Wright was one of the leading pin-up artists of the 20th Century. Unlike his American contemporaries Alberto Vargas and Gil Elvgren, the British-born Wright brought a sense of realism to his willowy beauties, who appeared in publications on both sides of the Atlantic, especially during WW2. Now, finally, access has been granted to his archive, and this is the first ever collection of his work.
The Book Review
Sirens opens up with a enjoyable forward from David’s son, Patrick. Speaking of the many hours his father spent in his studio, Patrick confesses to never really knowing what he did all day. From the introduction onwards, the author give a short history of David Wright, his career and the impact his work had at the time. Starting from page 18, the majority of the book is beautiful large full-page pin-ups.
Looking through such a large body of work you start to see what sets David Wright’s work from some of his contemporaries. Many of his pieces do not have that “gloss” that a lot of the American pin-ups had. They feel a little sketchier, a little moodier. His women have all the glamour of the 1950s, but are presented with more depth. Most of his women seem withdrawn in their thoughts, many without a hint of a smile. A far cry from the happy-go-lucky pin-ups we are used to seeing. Past simply relying on scantily clad models to create eroticism, David Wright’s women are not just sat in their bedrooms smiling for the camera, their pensive demeanour is inviting you in. To this regard, Wright’s work remind me more of the sophisticated women of Robert McGinnis, than the idealized women of Gil Elvgren.
If I were to have a gripe about the book, it would be that the image quality of the pictures vary. The majority of them are perfect, however, when you stumble on a few slightly lower quality ones it somewhat interrupts your experience. The other thing, which I know is just my personal taste, it would have been nice to see some more roughs or sketches.
With that said, David Wright’s women truly are beautiful and Sirens is a decidedly bonny body of his work, with enough variety to keep you engaged, and in my case, wanting more. Sirens: The Pin-Up Art of David Wright is available to buy right now, and if you are a fan of Carol Day, pulp or pin-up this is definitely one for you.