Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Artists Alley: Alberto Vargas

Yeah, yeah...I know most of you come here for either some info on my son Bennett's Infantile Spasms or to see what kind of toy junk I am going to show, but you can't blame a guy for trying to be diverse and expose you to things you don't normally see in your daily life.

That's what inspired the creation of these Artists Alley segments in the first place, to get you to look at some freakin' cool art. And even though AA is the LEAST viewed and least commented upon section of this blog, I gotta keep doing it. Call it a creative compulsion.

In addition to exposing you to art by linking you up to an artist you can find on deviantART, I also from time to time want to show you the art of some folks who aren't on DA for whatever reason or artists who might not even be around anymore.

By now, if you actually read these AA blogs, you know how into comic book art I am...it's probably one of my favorite types of art. I'm not limited to just that style though, there are lots of other types of work I get into. One of those things is art of Pin-Up Girls, also known as 'Cheesecake'. But not just any 'Cheesecake', I prefer much of it to have a more vintage flavor.

Don't get me wrong, I dig Adam Hughes and J. Scott Campbell, Joe Chiodo and so MANY other guys in the world of comics known for how they render ze wimmens, but I SERIOUSLY go for the vintage stuff. I have NO idea why, I just like it. And while the photography is always cool of the Pin-Up Girl, it's the ART of the Pin-Up Girl that I dig the most.

I don't think you can even begin a discussion about Vintage Pin-Up Girl art without the first name out of your mouth being Alberto Vargas. While maybe not the first, and ABSOLUTELY not my favorite, he is probably the most renowned from his era, I don’t think anyone is completely unfamiliar with his work. I tend to believe most people at some time in their life in this country my age or older have seen one of his paintings somewhere.

Alberto Vargas came to the United States in 1916 after studying art in Europe prior to World War I. His early career included work as an artist for the Ziegfeld Follies and for many Hollywood studios. Vargas' most famous piece of film work was the poster he painted for the 1933 film The Sin of Nora Moran, which shows a scantily-clad Zita Johann (The Mummy) in a pose of provocative desperation. The poster is often named one of the greatest movie posters ever.

Amazing what was considered outrageous or controversial at one time. Today? This is nothing...NOTHING. But back then it was a big, big deal to show a lady like this.

Vargas reached his greatest level of fame in the 1940's as the creator of iconic World War II era pin-ups for Esquire magazine known as "Varga Girls." These Esquire pin-ups inspired many works of 'nose-art' on various World War II aircraft. Later in the 60's he had a long-running relationship with Playboy that revived his struggling career.

Vargas is regarded as one of the greatest artists in his genre. His work was typically a combination of watercolor and airbrush. The highest achievement in the community of airbrush artistry is the Vargas Award, which shows you how respected the man really is in the history of the genre. A dying genre too, I might add...so much work is done digitally now that the true 'airbrush artist' is something of a dying breed.

Anyway...check out some of my favorite works of Alberto Vargas. Well, scratch that. I can't actually show you my FAVORITES, because I think his best stuff he did in his Playboy era, and that has boobies in it. Exposed boobies. And even though to me it's JUST ART and perfectly reasonable and tasteful, I'm not willing to kick down the door and start having a bunch of nudity here either.


  1. I am proud to say that I knew Vargas' name and genre. I too find the Pin Ups very beautiful.

    That actually reminds me a bit of the one thing I actually collect: Leonetto Cappiello posters and giclee prints. It started when I was living in France the summer I was 14, and I just fell in love with the vibrant colors. I particularly aim to purchase those with women in them as I think they are some of his most beautiful. Sadly, I have not gotten around to framing or hanging most of them. Hoepfully they will still be in good enough shape to whenever I finally find a home where I have a place to display them.

  2. Thanks, Ken! I knew the work, but didn't know the name. I love learning stuff like this.

  3. Liz:
    Love Cappiello's work. Great contrast.

    Thanks dude.



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