Like most companies in the mid-Twentieth Century, U.S. Steel relied on full page advertising to promote the value of their products. To display their uses in the home, U.S. Steel employed the talent of artist Keith Ward to create a happy home scene. Keith Ward (1906–2000) provided many illustrations for magazines such as Child’s Life, Boy’s Life and other magazines of the day. Ward was the illustrator for the ‘Dick and Jane’ series of books and his illustrations were used in advertising for companies such as Elmer’s Glue, Phillips 66 and of course U.S. Steel. The first U.S. Steel ad pictured above was printed in the Ladies’ Home Journal and featured a young girl, freshly bathed, being dried off by her mother in a bathroom filled with useful steel products. Interesting to note is the strategically held puppy in the girl’s hands. Much like the Avon ad in an earlier post, this image would never find a home in a magazine in today’s society.
Before the age of digital advertising, magazines were the primary medium for companies to promote their products. Large and colorful full-page spreads featuring artwork and photographs primarily targeted the stay-at-home housewife. Everything from cleaning products to laundry detergent to children’s goods were peddled in numerous family magazines. Founded in 1886, Avon is a globally known direct sales company of beauty and personal care products. This full page ad from Avon is dated 1963 and was used to promote their line of children’s toys. Fresh from her bath, this bare girl sits upon a towel while she examines a Humpty Dumpty toy. The embodiment of Avon’s purity and cleanliness image, the girl’s hair is held up with a daisy chain of stars while an array of Avon’s other toys sits around her. In today’s culture this ad would have never made it to print. Much like the Coppertone girl, she would have been covered up because of some unfounded fear to controversy. Ads such as this one only showcased the innocence, purity and unspoiled beauty of childhood.
On a rural countryside in southern France, Alain Laboile shares the often under appreciated events of daily life. Born on May 1st 1968 in Bordeaux, France, Laboile never set out on a path for artistic photography. Laboile attended a rural French school between the ages of 6 and 10 that focused on the Célestin Freinet method of learning which focuses on creativity and exchange of ideas rather than learning by rote. At the age of 11, Laboile moved to the Ivory Coast after his father took a job in a dam building project. Spending his time in the bush playing with exotic animals, despite the dangers, he looks back on this time fondly and realizes there are no photos of his early years.
After meeting his wife Anne in 1990 and accompanying her to an art lecture, the inner artist in Laboile was awakened as he took up an interest in clay sculpting. What brought him into the world of photography was the fact that he needed additional material for his art portfolio. After picking up a compact camera, Laboile’s initial focus was entomology but his new passion was soon to emerge. Being the father of six, he was never short of subjects around his rural home. Capturing the everyday life of his children soon became his passion as he documents it in stunning monochrome.
From frolicking in the mud to attending to their daily lessons, the camera captures the innocence and sense of wonder of a free childhood. The children romp and play free of clothing and without the forced shame of the outside world. From sadness to pure glee, the camera seems to be completely unnoticed by the children as they are free to express their true inner selves.
The work of Laboile has been exhibited throughout the world in such countries as Japan, India, Austria and the United States. Most recently, he published a collection of family photographs titled At The Edge of the World in October 2015. Two other published works included En Attendant le Facteur (Waiting for the Postman) and Under the Monochrome Rainbow. Laboile has created a Patreon funding page which enables artists to give access to new and unpublished work to users with as little as a $1 contribution per month. One last item to note is the lack of controversy that is usually associated with an artist of this nature. Sally Mann and Jock Sturges both faced intense criticism for their work in a similar field. It seems that living in a less repressed society such as France affords an artist to focus more on their work rather than defend it.
More information can be found on Alain Laboile’s official website.
Horror isn’t a common theme featured here on Pigtails, but when a talented photographer blends common childhood fears with the presence of young girls it deserves to be brought to the readers. Joshua Hoffine, born in Emporia, KS in 1973 and graduated from KSU with a degree in English Literature, is currently a freelance photographer who started his career with Hallmark Greeting Cards as a photo assistant. Hoffine then branched out from wedding photography to explore the darker side of humanity by creating a series of horror photographs featuring two of his young daughters in various nightmare type scenarios. Hoffine’s elaborate sets have the look of a mini movie studio as he and his crew captured the essence of a frightening childhood world. When asked why he used young girls in his photographs, he states “The little girl as an archetype represents innocence and vulnerability.” Another reason he mentioned is practical because he has four daughters and no sons. Using family and friends to portray the evil entity in the photographs, Hoffine reassures everyone that in no way were his daughters afraid of the sessions and that they compared it to playing “dress up.” Featured below are several examples of Hoffine’s work from the series After Dark My Sweet; more can be found on his website with prints available for purchase in his store.
Hoffine has recently taken a hand in filmmaking. His first effort, Black Lullaby, stars his daughter Chloe and Bob Barber (as the monster) and can be viewed on Vimeo.
Joshua Hoffine Fan Page
There are many places one can find beautiful representations of the youthful girl. One such unlikely place spotlighted here in Pigtails in Paint is the cemetery. Nestled along the banks of the Cooper River in Charleston, South Carolina, Magnolia Cemetery originally opened in 1850 to serve the needs of the growing population of a bustling port city. This sprawling Victorian-style cemetery is home to Civil War generals, judges, mayors and other prominent members of society. As with most Victorian Era cemeteries of its time, Magnolia features numerous monuments, obelisks and large statues to comemorate the deceased. Unfortunately during that period, many young lives were lost to now treatable diseases. To memorialize their lost children, well-to-do families would commission a sculpture to place on the grave as a token of their sorrow. Such statues were not meant to resemble their lost child, but to represent virtues like purity and innocence. The craftsmanship and detail of theses statues have withstood hurricanes, earthquakes and war and have survived for generations. Below are some examples of the statues found within the walls of the cemetery and a brief description of those they watch over.
Eliza Barnwell Heyward (1871) died at a very young age. As mentioned before, the statue was not meant to be a realistic likeness but represent her innocence as the girl casts her sorrowful gaze skyward.
Annie Kerr Aiken (1853-1856), or “Little Annie” as her vault reads, is resting in a large family plot at the south end beside a quiet lagoon. She is immortalized by the likeness of a sleeping child clutching a wreath to convey her eternal, peaceful sleep.
Lizzie Patrick (1885) is eternally protected by this draped girl in the form of an angel.
If you do have an opportunity to visit Magnolia Cemetery, it is open to the public daily and has much to offer. Many other cemeteries dot the south and I do hope to bring more hidden treasures of the past for you to enjoy.