Sirens: The Pin-Up Art Of David Wright by Terry Parker (book review).

David Wright (1912-1967) is an artist’s works whom you might have seen and not been able to put a name to. As pointed out with a still from the 1952 film ‘Angels One-Five’, it was his cheesecake paintings on the wall in the officers’ mess. Coming from a family of painters, Wright had a good pedigree and looking at his work here, all painted in gouache, are superb character studies. I would tend to call his artwork ‘good girl’ material and his biographical detail here points out that he did far more work than is shown here although that is the focus of this book. I hope there is a follow-up book showing this other work because even the few samples shown here shows his incredible versatility and ability to turn his hand to anything he was hired to paint because he could clearly do more than paint pretty ladies.


Although none of the work here falls within our genre, I do suspect that had he hadn’t died of a brain haemorrhage at the age of 54, he would surely have been approached. As it is, looking at this amazing selection, you can’t help but be impressed with his work. The samples shown with this review are fully clothed. Many within this book are less so but with a fair amount of taste. Although its author references Vargas, I can’t help but feel that Wright’s work shares more in common with Andrew Loomis in texture. That and the fact that they are real women than something out of an airbrush.

Pin up for Men Only, April 1954 by David Wright Red haired woman in strapless dress by David Wright Girl at dressing table by David Wright

The work shown here features both unpublished as well as material for the British, American and French markets when paintings ruled far more than photographs of models. Apart from book covers, he also did a selection for ‘Men Only’ magazine before Paul Raymond got his mitts on the magazine.

In many respects, the paintings here shows a bygone age from the 1940s-60s that is interesting to see under one cover. From a painting perspective, especially when seeing the occasional preliminary paint sketch, how Wright did his work. From the biography, Wright was clearly a workaholic and prolific and it’s a shame so little of this kind of work, albeit clothed, isn’t used in magazines so much anymore.

GF Willmetts

February 2014

(pub: Titan Books. 192 page illustrated large hardback. Price: £24.99 (UK), $34.95 (CAN), $41.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-78116-669-7)

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