A wonderfully conceived and deftly executed art deco original risque artwork from Rolf Armstrong’s short tenure in Hollywood. Dating to 1932, this transcendent work was unearthed in the late 1990s in the estate of a one of Armstrong’s former models. This important piece was exhibited at a solo show of the artist’s work in 1999 at the Bruce R. Lewin Gallery in New York City. A program from the exhibition featuring “The Blue Nude” is included with sale.
While considered by many to be the father of American pin up, Armstrong created few nudes. Highly selective in his choices, this model also appeared nude in another Armstrong masterwork “The Hollywood Venus” and in another large scale pastel titled at turns “Joan” and “Venus.”
Works from Armstrong’s Hollywood period are among his finest creations; exhibiting in New York to great excitement, commanding large prices, and creating an ever growing interest in this formative illustrator.
In California Armstrong attempted to create his own fine art print company “Armstrong Art Services.” Attempting to circumvent the demands and restrictions placed upon him by the calendar companies, and instead execute commissioned portraits of the Hollywood elite and large scale works for private patrons of the arts and to create prints, photographs, and transparencies from his original nudes and pin up pastels. The business was not a success, though the original works took his artistry to a new level. Rolf Armstrong was soon back in New York and again working mainly for The Brown & Bigelow Calendar Company. In many regards these early 1930’s works represent Armstrong’s visions and talents at their zenith, unfettered by whims of a Calendar Company art director and unpressured by the time restraints placed on him by his contracts.
The pastel is addressed with a New York City address in the artists hand and is marked with an inventory numeral #39 and tag on the verso as seen. It is unsigned and marked “unfinished nude never published.” A dazzling example of The Great American Pin-up, pastel is properly framed and lined and housed in a fine gold gallery frame as seen.