The Flame Girl by Billy Devorss
This remarkable, large, and colorful pastel by Billy Devorss was created for pin up calendar use and published under the title The Flame Girl. Unlike most of the pin-up artists working during the Golden Age of Illustration, Devorss never signed an exclusive contract with any of the calendar companies, and instead enjoyed incredible popularity as an in-demand freelancer. Devorss, originally from Saint Joseph, Missouri, maintained a New York City studio in the Beaux Arts building in midtown during the 1930s – 40s and took much inspiration from the glamour of both NYC and Hollywood.
This image, which features a fully made-up beaming blonde with glamorous hairstyle incongruously dressed in a union suit, takes inspiration from the reversal of fortune madcap comedies of Depression-era America, and is seductive, whimsical, and charming all at once. This pastel on illustration board is professionally matted and beautifully framed under glass and ready to hang and enjoy.
Devorss began his career shortly after receiving formal instruction at Kansas City Art Institute, graduating in 1934. Quickly getting the attention of Brown & Bigelow, the artist moved to New York City with his wife Glenna and began traveling in the smart set. Shrewdly, Devorss signed with the American Artists Agency upon moving to NY, and through them was able to contract to work for all the calendar companies, a move which enabled his high-style quality of life even as the country struggled through the 1930s. Working steadily from 1934 until the mid-1950s, Devorss made a name for himself as an heir and competitor to Rolf Armstrong, uniquely in touch with the cosmopolitan attitude of the city.
Known particularly for his lavishly fashionable creations, bold use of color, his femme-fatale pin-ups represent the ideal up to the minute art deco woman. In 1951, the artist and his wife returned to St. Joseph, where he enjoyed a life of leisure until his death in 1985.