Meet Margaret Brundage

By: Melanie Rosato

Brundage Portrait
Margaret Brundage, circa 1920

Margaret Brundage was born with the name Margaret Hedda Johnson in Chicago, in 1900. She progressed artistically and became the youngest student to attend the Art Institute of Chicago, where she studied fashion design. After her education she pursued a freelance career in fashion illustration until she found her place in the pulp art scene in the early 1930s.

Brundage is fittingly and adoringly referred to as the “Queen of the Pulps”. During the time period when pulp fiction and pin-ups were soaking in popularity, it was common for them to be combined. Brundage is known for creating cover artwork for the publication Weird Tales, a pulp magazine. She created potent images that toyed with violence and sensuality, as well as thrill and suspense; taking notes from the stories within the magazine each month. The pulp scene was a predominantly male field, Brundage however was a leader in pulp illustration, not just being labeled as, “good for a woman,” as would be expected in the early 1930s. In earlier years pulp magazines existed, but lacked the scandalousness and danger of Brundage’s work.

Sample of the artist’s work ranging from 1932-1940

While the content of her work is important to her story, her technicality played a huge role in her success. She was a devout colorist and experimented with vivid backgrounds to highlight her subjects; as well as using pastels to add a lush vibrancy that complimented her figures.

Today her work still stands as some of the most innovative and influential within the pulp-art realm.

Book Source: The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage-Queen of Pulp Pin-Up Art, by Stephen D. Korshak and J. David Spurlock, with forward from Rowena

Photo Sources:1, 234, and 5


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