Pre-dating the pornographic girlie mags of the mid- to late-'50s were art magazines devoted to the female form. Ostensibly "how-to" mags on figure-drawing and glamour photography, these publications actually published more full-nude photos than the swingin' girlie mags to come. Some of them even featured full-frontal nudity—but with all pubic hair carefully air-brushed out to create some rather surreal shots. Although the graphic design of these art magazines wasn't as inventive as their girlie counterparts, the photography was often more accomplished and the models prettier. Perhaps under the guise of "art," real models felt more comfortable posing nude; no doubt men at the time felt more comfortable buying magazines devoted to artistic expression rather than just, well, you know. Of course, in 1954, Hugh Hefner made the subject of sex semi-respectable and the girlie-mag boom was on, giving art magazines strong competition. Nevertheless, these art magazines played an important part in America's porn heritage. (It's also worth noting that this tradition of printing pictures of nude girls under the pretense of "art" or "instruction" continues to this day in such magazines as American Photo.)

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