Olivia de Berardinis

Olivia de Berardinis art is an expression of girl power for she belongs to the few women artists who succeeded in penetrating the pinup artistic genre dominated by males in the mold of Alberto Vargas and the like. Olivia’s works of astoundingly beautiful women in various stages of undress grace the pages of Playboy magazine with their captions written no less by the publisher and bohemian icon Hugh Hefner.

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Olivia Gatewood African American Artist Original
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The Olivia de Berardinis art that has been featured in several art gallery exhibits has been polished from years of contributing to some popular men’s magazines. She prefers working on photographs of women, instead of painting them in live poses, perhaps a reflection of her formation years as an artist.

Olivia had been fascinated with drawing beautiful women even when she was a little girl, finding inspiration from the Playboy copies that her aeronautical engineer of a father would have in their home. Olivia de Berardinis art is likewise rooted in the artist’s mother who had an inclination to romp around undressed in the privacy of their home, impersonating sultry celebrities like Marlene Dietrich, Katherine Hepburn and Greta Garbo.

Olivia’s husband Joel Beren, whom de Berardini met in 1975, also had a profound influence in developing her art. An avid collector art erotica, Beren married Olivia in 1979 after which they ventured into a modest publishing business, O Cards, engaged mainly in the production of greeting cards featuring de Berardini’s works.

A big break for Olivia de Berardinis art came in the mid-1980s when the then West Coast editor of Playboy magazine, Marily Grabowski, took notice of O Cards erotic greeting cards. For some time, sporadic contributions from Olivia were included in the pages of Playboy until Hefner recognized the potential of de Berardinis pieces. She was commissioned to render art work for Playboy’s special party invitations.

Under the aegis of Hefner, Olivia was able to access as models many of Playboy’s Playmates including Pamela Anderson. The growth in the popularity of Olivia de Berardinis art also contributed to the revival of interest in Betty Page whom Olivia painted from vintage photographs. Consequently, celebrities began commissioning de Berardini for portraits like those that are displayed in the home of comedian Margaret Cho. Rocker Courtner Love has also been a client, with Olivia producing the cover for the singer’s “America’s Sweetheart” 2004 album.

Art critics have been likewise impressed by Olivia de Berardini’s art. A Kansas City Art Institute professor, Maria Elena Buszek, noted that Olivia’s works are in celebration of women and not their exploitation as sex objects. Buszek, also an art historian and book author, says that de Berardini’s subjects are in control of themselves and their sexuality, independent of the approval or disapproval of male viewers. Another author, Louis K. Meisel, notes that Olivia’s rise to fame reflects a tradition of women’s pinup painting forays. He counts de Berardini in the same league as Joyce Ballantyne, Pearl Frush and Zoe Mozert, who rank among the best pinup artists in pre- and post-World War II era.

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