June 15, 2011
Show & Tell: Art Frahm's 'The Crossing Guard'
While wandering through an antique mall over the weekend, I stumbled across this colorful gem of a picture hanging in a simple 8x10 frame. My eyes just about popped out of their sockets because, as my good friend Matt said, "It's sooo up Anthony's alley!" And if you're a regular Pop Circus visitor you know how true a statement that really was. So, of course, I snatched that puppy right up and took it home. But I was curious to know more about the artist. Just WHO was this Frahm person? Was this print out of a book, or was it one in a series? I had to know more. To the internet I went, and what I found was quite interesting...
Art Frahm (1907-1981) was an American painter of campy pin-up girls and advertising. He lived in Chicago and was active from the 1940s to 1960s. Today he's best known for his "ladies in distress" pictures involving beautiful young women whose panties mysteriously flutter to the ground in public situations, often causing them to spill their bag of groceries.
Frahm was commercially successful, and even his falling-panties paintings were later imitated by other pin-up artists. In fact, to this day the falling-panties art has a small cult following as mid-20th century kitsch, or even as fetish art.
In addition to pin-ups, Frahm created a series of humorous hobo-themed calendar illustrations. Another set of paintings celebrated traffic safety, complete with smiling, chubby crossing guards and schoolchildren. (Ding! Ding! Ding! Just like the one I have!) His advertising art included works for Coca-Cola and Coppertone.
Boy, talk about one extreme to the other, huh? Somehow, Frahm even managed to make an adorable pup look like a "horn dog" in the second picture. That's a bit TOO creepy. I think I'll just stick with the traffic safety series, thank you very much.