A rare surviving oil on canvas pulp magazine cover painting by Earle K. Bergey for the August 1933 edition of Pep Stories; a spicy pulp title celebrating the lawless art deco era of Prohibition. An erotically envisioned German Beer Hall girl wearing a pretty smile and little else in this classic pin up girl news stand copy selling erotic entanglement. We originally offered this piece in 2013, where it made a huge splash and sold quickly at San Diego Comic-Con. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to offer it again on behalf of the current owner.
Painting is unsigned and framed in a fabulous Larson-Juhl carved wood art deco aesthetic frame.
Best known for painting the celebrated cover art of Anita Loos' Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Earle K. Bergey was a prolific American illustration artist. Bergey painted covers for a diversity of magazines and paperback books, some of which were only published after his early death in 1952.
Raised in Philadelphia, PA, Earle K. Bergey attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in the 1920s. He worked for the Philadelphia Public Ledger after which time he produced covers for the Fiction House line of pulp magazines. By the mid 1930s and with relationships well established with leading publishing houses, Bergey settled in historic Bucks County, PA.
Earle K. Bergey worked as a freelance illustrator for competing publishing houses throughout the 1930s. His provocative paintings were featured on a diversity of publications from risque pin-up magazines and widely circulated pulp magazines to standard periodicals including The Saturday Evening Post.
Bergey's subjects included romance, adventure, aviation, mystery, crime noir, sports and Westerns. Bergey illustrated covers for fitness magazines, and he was one of the first significant pin-up artists in America, contributing cover art to numerous titles such as Pep Stories, Gay Book Magazine, Snappy, and Tattle Tales. Today, it is not unusual for Bergey's unsigned pin-up art to be falsely attributed to other artists, such as Enoch Bolles, even though Bergey's treatment of flesh and the female figure makes his work uniquely recognizable.
In the 1940s, Bergey added science fiction and fantasy art to his body of work, including covers for Captain Future, Startling Stories, and Thrilling Wonder Stories. Often dubbed the "inventor of the brass brassiere," for his covers of scantily clad women menaced by monsters in space, Bergey is seen to have inspired visual culture, especially film, with his memorable, humanizing compositions of cosmic conflict.
By 1948, as the pulp magazine industry was fast approaching its end, Earle K. Bergey began producing paperback book art along with contemporaries like Rudolph Belarski. While continuing to paint pulp magazine covers until his death, Bergey contributed to the success of leading paperback publishers of the day, including Pocket Books and Popular Library.
In addition to his iconic Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Bergey illustrated stories of established authors from Emile Zola to the Western master, Zane Grey, whose 1951 Pocket Books edition cover painting for Spirit Of The Border is a Bergey classic.
Earle K. Bergey died suddenly in 1952 at the age of 51.