An endearing, albeit slightly sinister, interior hearth and home Americana scene titled “Magic Spell” by noted calendar and pin up artist Vaughan Bass. In this late 1940s work, the newly invented television takes center stage in a room of otherwise unsupervised children of all ages. All participants are transformed by the magic spell cast by the glowing console. The unpainted television screen surface would act as advertising placement in the finished calendar where text would be added to appear as though it was on the T.V.
Vaughan Bass appears to have been strongly influenced by the circle of artists that grew up around Haddon Sundblom. He was a Chicago artist who began his pin up career working for the Louis F. Dow Company in St. Paul during the mid-to-late 1930s.
Bass created his own pin-ups for Brown and Bigelow, but he was then employed by the Louis F. Dow Company as a “paint-over’ artist, commissioned to redo the work that Gil Elvgren had previously created for the company. Dow was motivated by economic interests, hoping to earn more money from such “redesigned” Elvgrens.
Fortunately, Bass was a skilled and sensitive artist and strove to leave the faces, hands, skin, and other key areas of the Elvgren’s essentially untouched. However, he occasionally had to repaint an arm or hand because it had to be repositioned to accommodate a new over painted image.
Bass’ painting style was often compared to that of Elvgren, Buell, and Ballantyne. He worked in oil on canvas in almost the same sizes as the others. In the 1950’s, the versatile Bass did a series of spectacular oils depicting wrestling scenes that clearly demonstrated his ability to be comfortable with any subject matter. He created the “Wonder Bread Girl” in the 1950s using his daughter Nancy as his model. His portrait of President Dwight D. Eisenhower is in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.