Thursday, March 12, 2009

Theres no pinup like a Vargas girl

The word Pinup became synonymous in during the roaring 1920s and was introduced to the English language in 1941 however the practice is dated and documented all the way back to at least the 1890s. Aside from the traditional drawn pin up, many pinups were photographs of actresses and models. Including one of the most popular early pin-up girls was Betty Grable, her poster hung from many lockers of G.I.s during World War II.

Alberto Vargas
Alberto began his career in the United States as the official painter for the Ziegfeld Follies from 1919 to 1934. Shortly after Alberto moved to Hollywood where he was employed as an artist by various movie studios. Then in 1940 he replaced pinup artist George Petty at Esquire magazine. From 1940 until 1947, his flawless watercolor and airbrushed Vargas Girls adorned air crafts, ships, and even uniform jackets of the US servicemen during the World War II era.

From 1940 to 1946, while working for Esquire, Vargas would prepare a total of four preliminary drawings for each of his paintings. The first three were drawn on fine tissue paper, the fourth on a heavy vellum parchment paper. Each tissue showed increasing detail from one state to the next finally the parchment state showed the most detail because of the paper's colour and texture, was almost identical to the final painting. These were often drawn with the model nude, then Vargas added the clothing to the final painting for publication. In the late 1950s the “Vargas Girls” debuted in the pages of Playboy magazine as a monthly feature. While working for Playboy, Vargas did one tissue and occasionally a few parchment studies for each of his published paintings. Both the “Vargas” and the “Vargas” girls are included among the most recognizable cultural icons of the 20th century. (Pictured to the right Vargas works on one of his iconic images in his studio)

The gorgeous girls that Alberto Vargas created with his bear hands will always be my biggest inspiration. When it comes to sassy outfits, immaculate hair, great props, flawless makeup, the most adorable face expressions and the best poses, Vargas pinups win hands down.


  1. oh i didn't know your blog but i love it!

  2. Vargas is terrific but that illustration, lovely as it is, wasn't done by him. Poor Alberto was grossly exploited by the editors of Esquire, eventually forcing him to reluctantly press a lawsuit to get out of his contract. He left Esquire but suffered the ultimate indignantly of losing the rights to sign his work as Varga, the name having been surreptitiously trademarked by Esquire.


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