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 Alberto Vargas  (1896 - 1982)

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Lived/Active: New York/California      Known for: pin-up girl illustrations

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Ad Code: 2
Alberto Vargas
from Auction House Records.
Vargas Girl, Playboy illustration, October 1963
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Alberto Vargas (1896-1982) was born in Arequipa, Peru, in 1896, the son of a successful photographer, and was educated in Switzerland.  Arriving in New York in 1916, he was determined to stay in America and pursue what became an illustrious career.

His name has become synonymous with pin-up girls, but in the early 1940s, he was just a guy hired by Esquire magazine to imitate departed star George Petty, who bolted over pay.  Vargas initially aped Petty's sleek women with their telephone posing and large-hat lounging; soon, however, his own distinctive, delicate watercolor style emerged.  His wide-eyed wonder- women rivaled Betty Grable as the ultimate pin-up girl of World War II.

Vargas, who signed his Esquire work "Varga", had already achieved some notoriety for his Ziegfeld Follies and movie poster art.  But Esquire made him famous, though he was paid poorly and, like Petty, eventually quit.  Legal problems over ownership of his work, even of his own signature, plagued him.

But late in his life, Vargas was given a second shot at fame and fortune by longtime fan Hugh Hefner.  His regular Playboy slot in the 1960s and '70s elevated Vargas to a pinnacle eclipsing Petty.

One of the true giants of American illustration, Alberto Vargas has created an art style so sensuous, so exquisite, that for the past six decades his magnificent paintings of women have come to embody the fantasies of three generations of women and men around the world. His work also appeared in Harper's Bazaar, Theatre Magazine, and Tattler.

He died in December 1982.

Source: http://scandols.com/artists.htm

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Arequipa, Peru on Feb. 9, 1896, Vargas immigrated to New York City in 1916 after his art studies in Switzerland and France were interrupted by World War I.  After three years of commercial work and private portraits, he obtained a contract from Flo Ziegfield to paint his Follies stars.  In 1934 he moved to Hollywood where he painted and designed sets for all the major movie studios. His "Vargas Girls" became famous when featured in such magazines as Esquire (1940s) and Playboy (1950s).  Vargas died in Los Angeles on December 30, 1982.

Exh:
San Francisco Art Exchange, 1986 (solo).
Source:
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
SF Chronicle, 6-7-1986, p. 4.
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
 Born in Arequipa, Peru on Feb. 9, 1896.  Vargas immigrated to NYC in 1916 after his art studies in Switzerland and France were interrupted by WWI.  After three years of commercial work and private portraits, he obtained a contract from Flo Ziegfield to paint his Follies stars.  In 1934 he moved to Hollywood where he painted and designed sets for all the major movie studios.  His "Vargas Girls" became famous when featured in such magazines as Esquire  (1940s) and Playboy  (1950s).  Vargas died in Los Angeles on Dec. 30, 1982.  Exh:  SF Art Exchange, 1986 (solo).
Source:
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
SF Chronicle, 6-7-1986, p. 4.
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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