Who Was Zoë Mozert?

American illustrator Zoë Mozert (1907-1993) was the ultimate 1940s “Calendar Girl,” famously serving as her own model for the pin-ups that she so prolifically painted. Distributed nationally and internationally by Brown & Bigelow, these pin-ups were viewed not only in private settings, but also emblazoned with advertisements for local businesses and put on public display. As a writer for Collier’s Magazine wrote, “Miss Mozert has turned out a great many works of art which are now to be seen in feed stores, barbershops and the new streamlined bowling alleys…. In most of these Mozert masterpieces will be seen the chassis of Zoe herself” (1944).

Mozert’s body thus became almost as famous as her art, fostering a fantasy of an artist-model who willingly and flirtatiously revealed herself to viewers. Mozert’s works engage with the tradition of artists’ self-portraits while also capitalizing on her sexuality and femininity, in striking contrast to the predominantly-male spaces in which her art was displayed. What does it mean, as a woman, to direct your creative output to men? What does it mean to deploy your own body for your image-making? How did Mozert capitalize on her production processes for publicity? How might this imagery alter our understanding of popular perceptions and tropes of artistic identity and practice?