When We Had a Sense of Humor

When this ad was first brought to my attention, it was suggested that it might be a fake. It is easy to forget how uptight we have gotten about viewing the human body these days, but with careful analysis, I think it is clear that something like this would not have been that unusual in 1974 Germany.

Elefanten Schuhe Ad (1974)

It is worth noting some of the motivations and circumstances associated with this ad. First of all, this image was meant to convey humor as in “look at how cute and silly these children are!” For those who can understand the text, Elefanten Shoes is advertising the fact that their children’s shoes come in three widths, just like the girls—wide, medium and narrow.

The other thing is that although an ad like this would not have been so out-of-place at that time, still it would not have been used to target the general market. Clearly, this ad appeared in a publication targeting the countercultural demographic with money to spend.

There are certain advantages to using bare bodies to advertise this product. Any clothing might have distracted from the shoes which the company wished to emphasize and there is also a timelessness that would have been lost if the girls were wearing clothing of a particular era and nationality. Clothing would also have obscured the noticeably different figures of the girls as would a calves-down only view which we might see in a more mainstream ad.

So, who out there is going to make a fuss about this ad? And what does it say about our capacity for humor?

The Girls of Summer, Pt. 1

Well, it’s high summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, and that means young girls are out playing in the water, on the beach, or in the yard.  In some parts of the world they are even doing so (gasp!) partially or fully nude.  Others are wearing swimsuits or thin summer outfits.  The beauty and innocence of a child frolicking under a blazing summer sun, free of guilt and bodily shame, is a sight we could all use more of, frankly.  And so, in honor of those children who are out there enjoying the rays this summer, here is the first in a three-part series featuring little girls doing precisely that, all perfectly captured by an assortment of painters and photographers from around the world.  So look at these images and smile, because someday, if the morality thugs and environment polluters continue to have their way, it may be a rare thing to behold.

The first image is in honor of the holiday Americans just celebrated, the Fourth of July.  I don’t recall where I obtained this image, and a search of the artist’s name reveals nothing.  It may have been mislabeled at the site I got it from; that kind of thing happens a lot on the internet, unfortunately.  I also wish it was a wee bit larger, but this will have to suffice.  I intended to post this on the Fourth but didn’t get it out in time.

Carol Lauren - (Title Unknown)

Carol Lauren – (Title Unknown)

The next image is from Indian journalist and photographer Sebin Abraham Jacob, who goes by Sebinaj on DeviantArt.  It’s called Rejoice, and I can’t imagine a better title.  I love the texture of the stone walkway behind the girl and how nicely it contrasts with her softness.  I also love her fancy shoes, which seem almost out of place and slightly too large for her feet.

Sebinaj - Rejoice

Sebin Abraham Jacob – Rejoice

DeviantArt: Sebinaj

Karl Jóhann Jónsson is an Icelandic painter, primarily of portraits.  I really like the unique perspective on this little girl, Emilia.  There are other paintings of the same girl, whom I presume is his daughter, on his site, so take a look around.

Karl Jóhann Jónsson - Emilía í sundi

Karl Jóhann Jónsson – Emilía í sundi

Karl Jóhann: Portrett og fleira (official site)

These next two pieces are actually English travel posters from early to mid-20th century.  The first is for Burnam-on-Sea, a coastal town in Somerset, England.  At first, all I was able to glean from the web on the artist was that his last name is Durmon.  It looks to be from about the 1940s.  If anyone else can provide more information here, it will be greatly appreciated.  Although there is no text provided, the second image is a poster for another English coastal town, Clacton-on-Sea, dating from 1953, with art by Mervyn Scarf.  I’ve included these for the express reason that they both demonstrate that it wasn’t that long ago when the English followed the general European trend for little girls’ bathing costumes.  As you can see in both examples, the little girls are topless.  There are other examples out there showing the same, but these two should suffice.

Durmon - Burnham-on-Sea (poster)

Alan Durman – Burnham-on-Sea (poster)

Alan Durman (1905-1963) did a number of idyllic pieces that appeared on posters and examples are sold at auction from time to time.

Mervyn Scarf - Clacton-on-Sea (poster) (1953)

Mervyn Scarf – Clacton-on-Sea (poster) (1953)

This next photograph is by Sally Mann.  Although I have a couple of Mann’s books, this image was actually taken from a small compilation volume I have called Love and Desire.  That is, of course, Mann’s daughter Jessie striking the pose on what appears to be a boogie board of some sort.  I have never seen this image in any other source, so I was quite happy to discover the book had a Mann photo in it.

Sally Mann - Venus Ignored (1992)

Sally Mann – Venus Ignored (1992)

Sally Mann (official site)

This image is by the painter Rafael Concilio and dates from 2001.  That’s really all I can tell you.

A few of this artist’s paintings can be found here.

Rafael Concilio - A Toy Ship (2001)

Rafael Concilio – A Toy Ship (2001)

Here is a photograph by Oleg Itkin.  I do not recall where I pulled this from, probably a Russian photography site.  Such sites were a goldmine of beautiful images of children back in the early ’00s, and I discovered a lot of fantastic new photographers this way.  This piece reminds me a lot of the work of Jock Sturges in its simplicity.

Oleg Itkin - Vintage

Oleg Itkin – Vintage

And speaking of Russian photographers, one of the best is Dolphine (a.k.a. d’elf), who mostly shoots images of little girls (and occasionally little boys) doing gymnastics.  If you are interested in child gymnastics, you will find more images than you could ever want at Dolphine’s website.  Be sure to check the links at the bottom of her page for more beautiful work.  Here are two pieces from Dolphine.

Dolphine - Small Pantheon

Dolphine – Small Pantheon

Dolphine - Summer 2

Dolphine – Summer 2

d’elf (official site)

This next one is somewhat different from the theme of this post, but I quite like it and wanted to include it anyway.  It is a painting by Jimmy Lawlor called, appropriately enough, The Height of Summer.  Lawlor has several lovely surrealist/fantasy paintings featuring children, so don’t forget to peruse his site!

Jimmy Lawlor - The Height of Summer

Jimmy Lawlor – The Height of Summer

Jimmy Lawlor (official site)

Wai Ming is an Asian painter of some renown, noted for his beautiful and sensitive portraits of children, especially girls.  Here is a perfect example.

Wai Ming - The Lovely Summer

Wai Ming – The Lovely Summer

Wai Ming (official site)

Nikolai Filippov is yet another Russian photographer who tends to focus his camera on the young girl, though his specialty is ballet.  This image of a nude boy and girl walking down the beach is all kinds of charming.

There is a large collection (23 pages worth) of his work here.  However, the nude images have a warning and one would presumably need to establish an account to view those.  A number of images can be found here as well along with some biographical information.

Nikolai Filippov - Game Beside the Sea II (1972)

Nikolai Filippov – Game Beside the Sea II (1972)

And now we move on to Russian painters.  Anna Lebedevna (not to be confused with Anna Ostroumova-Lebedevna) is a contemporary academic painter, and that’s about all I know of her.  She doesn’t seem to have much of a presence online, unfortunately.

Anna Lebedeva - Summer (1999)

Anna Lebedeva – Summer (1999)

Svitlana Galdetska is a contemporary Ukrainian painter who specializes in paintings of her own daughter.  This image is one of several lovely ‘girl on beach’ images from her series Space Around Me.

Svitlana Galdetska - My Summer

Svitlana Galdetska – My Summer

Svitlana Galdetska (official site)

Contemporary photographer Frank H. Jump mostly focuses on vintage and decaying signs and murals, but here he trains his camera on an adorable little girl at the beach.

Frank H. Jump - Girl on Beach, Ft. Tilden, Queens (2002)

Frank H. Jump – Girl on Beach, Ft. Tilden, Queens (2002)

Fading Ad Campaign (official site)

I don’t know the photographer of this next image, but it is a page taken from the magazine Marie Claire Italia.  I do know that the adult woman in the image is French actress and model Laetitia Casta.

(Photographer Unknown) - Marie Claire Italia, June, 1995

(Photographer Unknown) – Marie Claire Italia, June, 1995

Stanley Goldstein is a modern painter with a photo-realistic style.  There are some beach and other outdoor images at his site that could’ve easily fit here, but I preferred this painting of children frolicking in a water fountain.

Stanley Goldstein - Fountain I (2008)

Stanley Goldstein – Fountain I (2008)

Stanley Goldstein (official site)

Here’s an unusual photo by Luiz Cavalcante, whose work I have featured here before.  This little girl looks like she’s having a blast, doesn’t she?

Luiz Cavalcante - Little Jumping Girl

Luiz Cavalcante – Little Jumping Girl

Our final piece is by Shannon Richardson.  I’ve posted this once before, but I want to post it again.  Ah, what was better when you were a kid than playing outside while eating ice cream, eh?

Shannon Richardson - Grass Skirts

Shannon Richardson – Grass Skirts

That’s it for this batch.  Stay cool out there, people.

Shannon Richardson (official site)

A Touch of Hypocrisy: Eiderlon Panties

As photography became the mainstay of advertisers, it became necessary to hire live models. Even though commercial art can be formulaic with occasional breakthroughs quickly spreading throughout the industry, sometimes certain campaigns manage to retain a certain charm. For me, Eiderlon panty ads hold that charm. These ads also give us a taste of the evolution of marketing and social standards in America.

Up until 1960, Eiderlon was still making extensive use of illustrators and their panty ads appeared to be watercolor compositions with simple comprehensible figures. By the mid-1960s, photographic models were used. Adult women’s breasts could never be shown in mainstream advertising—either posing away from the camera or having their flowing hair or arms strategically placed—but showing a little girl’s bare torso was usually acceptable. Also, the company was still engaged in a more primitive mode of advertising—focusing mostly on the product’s features, especially comfort.

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1965)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1965)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1969)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1969)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (c1972) (1)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (c1972) (1)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1975)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1975)

This focus on comfort took a bizarre turn and this is where we get a touch of hypocrisy. While using skin to create an appealing image for their product, they were making a tongue-in-cheek (and completely cynical) campaign against nudity in 1969 and 1970.

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1970) (1)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1970) (1)

As Americans began to feel the pinch of the inflationary period of the 1970s, the company put greater emphasis on the economy of its product.

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1970) (2)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1970) (2)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (c1972) (2)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (c1972) (2)

With the feminist movement and its subsequent backlash, the style changed again slightly. There was an attempt to seem more hip and make a “back to nature” appeal. At the same time, the company was starting to play on women’s insecurity about participating in a man’s world while maintaining their feminity; with Eiderlon, they could take comfort in being pretty underneath. This also illustrates a new realization that how customers “feel” about the brand is much more important than any particular features.

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1974)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1974)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1979)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1979)

In the last example, we see a return to the use of illustration. Also, as publications became more streamlined, they shrank in size and in concert with exploding advertising rates, the ads generally shrank in tandem.

Estefania Sturchio’s ‘Donde Nace el Mundo’

Here is another of my accidental discoveries.  What I like about this series is all the wonderful contrasts it presents: the softness of the girl against all the hard edges of the machinery, the girl’s whimsically oversized yet grungy clothing, and the girl herself, who is not simply a traditional tomboy—she has a girly side too, hinted at by her fingernail polish.  This is a well-conceived campaign that emphasizes both Sturchio’s photographic skill and her fashion designs.

Estefania Sturchio - Donde nace el mundo (cover)

Estefania Sturchio – Donde nace el mundo (cover)

Estefania Sturchio - Donde nace el mundo (1)

Estefania Sturchio – Donde nace el mundo (1)

Estefania Sturchio - Donde nace el mundo (2)

Estefania Sturchio – Donde nace el mundo (2)

Estefania Sturchio - Donde nace el mundo (3)

Estefania Sturchio – Donde nace el mundo (3)

Estefania Sturchio - Donde nace el mundo (4)

Estefania Sturchio – Donde nace el mundo (4)

Estefania Sturchio - Donde nace el mundo (5)

Estefania Sturchio – Donde nace el mundo (5)

Estefania Sturchio - Donde nace el mundo (6)

Estefania Sturchio – Donde nace el mundo (6)

Behance: Esefania Sturchio

Mexx Kids Ad Stirs Dirty Feelings in Prudes

As inevitably happens, some ad for kids’ clothing stirs outrage in a few people who seem unable to look at nude or semi-nude children (or children posed in certain ways)  without wanting to jump their bones, and so, believing that everyone must see the ad the same way they do, they raise holy hell and project their dirty, guilty feelings onto all of us.  How else do you explain the instant outrage when people see images of shirtless girls and boys doing the oh so erotic activity of . . . standing around with their hands in their pockets, looking bored.  So, here is the offending ad.  Just look at those kids standing there, baiting pedophiles with their come-hither looks.  And, what’s this?  The girl in the hat has her arm around a boy!  Uh oh, she’s been sexualized!*

Beatrice Heydiri – Mexx Kids ad (1)

Okay, that’s the end of my sarcastic taunting of the the morally panicked . . . for now. 🙂  This ad is not, of course, typical of Mexx Kids advertising, and it was only used in Europe, where people are a little more sane about this kind of thing, rather than Canada where the company is headquartered.  Oddly enough, it wasn’t the above ad that originally sparked the controversy. It was this one:

Beatrice Heydiri – Mexx Kids ad (2)

If you’re confused by this advertisement being controversial . . . join the club. And, as usual, I have never heard of this company until the controversy, and now I’m pushing their wares. Mission accomplished?

Beatrice Heydiri (official site)

I loves me some controversy . . .

Oh noes, I am hot and bothered by this!

* Is it ironic that my spell check doesn’t recognize the word ‘sexualized’?  I don’t think so.

Harri Peccinotti

Harry Peccinotti is recognized mostly for his erotic photos of women, and his stint as art director for the fashion mag Nova (from which the following image is taken) is considered groundbreaking by many.  Here we have a fashion advertisement for Biba in which a young girl appears to be dressing or undressing a life-sized mannequin, only the “mannequin” appears to be a real adult model.  The ad is provocative on a number of levels.  I won’t expound on them as they are fairly self-evident, but suffice it to say this ad doesn’t sit well with modern PC sensibilities.  And yet it does seem to say something honest about our culture, or even, more importantly, about the nature of girlhood itself.  Think about the Barbie doll and you’ll begin to see my point, I think.  Reality doesn’t always fall in line with political correctness; let’s leave it at that.

harri-peccinotti-biba-clothes-for-mother-and-daughter-19721

Harri Peccinotti – Biba ad – Nova (November 1972)

*Don’t be concerned about the variation in this artist’s first name.  Both spellings are acceptable.

Wikipedia: Harry Peccinotti

Jesse and James UK

Two ads for Jessie and James children’s fashions.  I love the sort of punk aesthetic of these shots.  You can see a bit more of Jessie and James outfits—on adorable children—here. (By the way, that’s a great site in general for little girl imagery.)

Jessie-and-James-UK-Spring-Summer-2012[1]

(Photographer Unknown) – Jessie and James UK Spring Summer 2012 (1)

Jessie-and-James-UK-Spring-Summer-2012-2[1]

(Photographer Unknown) – Jessie and James UK Spring Summer 2012 (2)

Redheads, Pt. 1

This will be one of two posts featuring photos of red-haired girls with unidentified photographers.  Only about 4% of the human population are redheads according to Wikipedia.  It’s the rarest of hair colors.  I’m a blond myself, but I happen to have several redheads on the paternal side of my family.  So tonight I’m giving props to all the wonderful redheaded girls of the world aged 0 to 16.  Here’s to you, girls!

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