Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Alberto Vargas

Fleurs du Mal
Depiction of a reclining woman in lingerie (wearing one stocking) surrounded by oriental objects, ashtray, and opened book "Fleurs du Mal".
other detail unknown

Alberto Vargas (1896-1982) was a noted Peruvian painter of pin-up girls. He is often considered one of the most famous of the pin-up artists. His work was typically a combination of watercolor and airbrush. Despite always using figure models, he often portrayed elegantly dressed, semi-nude to nude women of idealized proportions.

He was the son of noted Peruvian photographer Max T. Vargas. Born in Peru, he moved to the United States in 1916 after studying art in Europe in Zurich and Geneva prior to World War I.

Beginning in 1919, he painted all the Ziegfield stars including Billy Burke, Marilyn Miller, Paulette Goddard, Eddie Cantor and W. C. Fields. In 1927, he began working for Paramount Pictures, creating the original artwork for Glorifying the American Girl. He was later hired by Twentieth Century Fox to produce pastel portraits of their stars. He moved on to Warner Brothers, then to MGM. He became widely noted in the 1940s as the creator of iconic World War-II era pin-ups for Esquire magazine known as "Vargas Girls."

The death of his wife Anna Mae in 1974 left him devastated, and he stopped painting. Anna Mae had been his model and business manager, his muse in every way.