Alberto Vargas

Mention the name Alberto Vargas or Vargas to any red-blooded American male, and chances are that he’ll have a smile as broad as the Cheshire cat who swallowed a cute pet canary in one gulp. The reason is plain and simple. For years, the name Vargas has become associated with the pretty pinup girls, mirroring the reputation of this artist who is widely acknowledged as the master of masters in this particular artistic niche of drawing images of exceptionally beautiful, scantily clad females.

Vintage Vargas Paris Prints Set Of 4
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Vintage Vargas 1990 book Anna Sten 1933 Signed 8 x 11
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Original Vintage Playboy Vargas Pinup Signed 8 x 11 March 1962
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Alberto Vargas Sheer Elegance Centennial Collection Poster 1996
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Alberto Vargas Jeanne Centennial Collection Poster 1996
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Olivia De Berardinis Super Rare 1977 Original OIL Published LUI 3 Vargas Pinup
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Woman Reclining with Japanese Doll 85x11 Photo Print Alberto Vargas PIn up Art
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8 Vargas prints 8X 11 mounted shrink wrapped on foamcore
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Alberto Vargas has the artist’s blood, being the son of famous Peruvian photographer Max Vargas who showed his son the wonders that could be done with an airbrush. Exposure to the magazine La Vie Parisienne and its front covers featuring sensuous models done by Raphael Kirchner also helped shape the young Vargas’ artistic bent.

Immigrating to America in 1916, Vargas was immediately captivated by the beauty and sophistication of the office workers who trooped at Broadway and Fourteenth Street. The glorification of the American girl through drawings, from that point on, became the goal for Alberto Vargas.

Watercolor, pen and ink were the initial medium that Alberto Vargas used when he was first employed as a fashion illustrator for the Adelson Hat Company and Butterick Patterns. Vargas decided to turn freelance commercial illustrator, a decision that eventually saw him drawing portraits of models for the Ziegfeld Follies for display at the New Amsterdam Theater.

For 12 years, Alberto Vargas had the enviable job of painting Ziegfeld Follies stars including the glamour names of their era such as Ruth Etting, Nita Naldi, Marilyn Miller, and Paulette Goddard. Vargas also became a close friend of the impresario Ziegfeld who later produced the movie “Glorifying the American Girl”. Vargas was contracted for the original artwork of the film, further boosting the artist’s stock at the Paramount Pictures art department where he is also working.

In addition to his gigs with Paramount and the Ziegfeld Follies, Alberto Vargas also produced front covers for Dance and Tatler magazines, illustrations on hairstyle for Harper’s Bazaar, as well as Old Gold cigarette displays. Even bigger breaks came Vargas’ way after he married Anna Mae Ciift, a showgirl from the Greenwich Village Follies, in 1930. Moving to Hollywood four years after his marriage, Vargas was hired as artist for Twentieth Century Fox, then for Warner Brothers and lather for MGM.

The Vargas fame as a pinup artist came into full bloom when he was hired by Esquire Magazine after doing calendar jobs for Joseph Hoover and Sons. At Esquire, the artist agreed to drop the “s” in his surname, leading to the introduction of the initial Varga girl calendar which became a best seller. With the magazine, Vargas also continued painting Hollywood stars like Ava Gardner, Jane Russell, Loretta Young, Linda Darnell, Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe.

Alberto Vargas parted ways with Esquire in 1946, producing his own calendar and taking only commercial jobs. A court order, however, prohibited him from signing his calendar pinups “Varga” which Esquire claimed as its own. This, however, did not diminish the Vargas fame, and eventually “Vargas girl” pinups became even more popular.

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