Alberto Vargas, arguably the greatest pinup artist of the 20th century, delighted subscribers with his beautiful Vargas Girls for nearly two decades. Certainly among PLAYBOY’S most beloved artists, he gave readers a monthly dose of his special blend of wit and sensuality. Each of his creations is unique and every reader has his or her favorite.
Although he was born in Peru and educated in Europe, Vargas made a name for himself in New York during the 1920’s illustrating posters for “Florenz Ziegfelds’s Follies”. Vargas worked for Ziegfeld until the showman died in 1932. Throughout the ‘30’s and ‘40’s, he contributed to numerous publications, among them Esquire.
Best known for his lengthy collaboration with PLAYBOY, Alberto first worked for the magazine in 1957, and then became a regular contributor in 1960, when original art director Art Paul convinced Hugh Hefner that including the artist allowed PLAYBOY to offer another sophisticated depiction of the female form without having another photographic pictorial.
For over twenty years, Vargas depicted women from every walk of life. All were printed in the magazine with a caption, created by the editorial staff at PLAYBOY. An academically trained figure painter, he based each of his artworks on a live model and lovingly painted them in watercolor. In fact, many of his paintings were based on his wife Anna Mae, a dancer who he met when painting the Follies. They remained inseparable throughout the course of their lives, and although they had no children he often referred to his paintings as his “babies.”