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Alberto Vargas

Alberto Vargas was a noted Peruvian painter of pin-up girls and erotica.

Born in Arequipa, Peru, Joaquin Alberto Vargas y Chavez moved to the United States in 1916 after studying art in Europe prior to World War I. He was the son of famous Peruvian photographer Carlos Vargas. [*] 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 that for the 1933 film The Sin of Nora Moran, which shows a near-naked Zita Johann in a pose of desperation. The poster is frequently named one of the greatest movie posters ever made. Premier Magazine - The 25 Best Movie Posters Ever Premiere.com He became famous in the 1940s as the creator of iconic World War II era pin-ups for Esquire magazine known as "Varga Girls." The nose art of many World War II aircraft was adapted from these Esquire pin-ups.

A legal dispute with Esquire over the use of the name "Varga" resulted in a judgment against Vargas and he struggled financially until the 1960s when Playboy magazine began to use his work as "Vargas Girls." His career flourished and he had major exhibitions of his work all over the world. The death of his wife Anna Mae in 1974 left him devastated and he stopped painting. The publication of his autobiography in 1978 renewed interest in his work and brought him partially out of his self-imposed retirement to do a few works, such as album covers for Bernadette Peters and The Cars. He died of a stroke on December 30, 1982, at the age of 86.

Related websites


Premier Magazine - The 25 Best Movie Posters Ever Premiere.com

Alberto Vargas and the Esquire Pinup Stephen Goddard, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas

Valdes-Dapena, Peter, "Playboy art: sex sells" CNN/Money (December 18, 2003

Pageant Almanac of the Miss Universe Pageant

Pin-Up Files: Alberto Vargas

Alberto Vargas article in Cigar Aficionado, 100th anniversary 1996

Vargas on "The Pin-Up Files"

Alberto Vargas Biography

Artwork on the American Art Archives web site

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