Thursday, November 18, 2004

Honeytrap Hero: Alberto Vargas

When asked why he only painted women, Peruvian Alberto Joaquin Vargas Y Chavez responded, "show me something more beautiful than a beautiful woman, and then I'll go paint it." His first job was painting Ziegfeld Follies showgirls, learning "the difference between nudes and lewds." In 1930, he moved to LA, where he created set designs and painted portraits of studio stars. A union walk-out by studio artists resulted in Vargas being blacklisted in Hollywood and labelled a communist. Broke, he returned to New York, where he replaced George Petty as the pin-up artist for Esquire. The publisher didn’t like the sound of his name and asked him to change it to “Varga”. Each Varga gatefold appeared with a verse, for example “March I’m not so fond of, my suitors grow quite lax, instead of paying compliments, they’re paying income tax!” Vargas grew in fame, with even the New Yorker saying that the artist "could make a girl look nude if she were rolled up in a rug.”


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