Hallmark Fine Art Gallery •
• California • USA •
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From the Playboy Archive
The Original Vargas Girls by Alberto Vargas
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.
Playboy’s Femlin, the impish nymphet who has teased and amused Playboy readers for five decades, celebrated her fiftieth anniversary in 2007. In 1956, artist LeRoy Neiman translated Hugh Hefner’s idea of a pint-sized, mischievous woman into living black and white for the magazine’s “Party Jokes” page. However, it wasn’t until 1957 that she donned her now familiar costume of black hair, black gloves and long, black stockings and became a legend.
To Playboy’s readers she is as recognizable as the company’s Rabbit Head Logo. She has appeared on eight Playboy covers, inspired a pictorial entitled The Femlin Comes to Life, and has advocated the Playboy lifestyle by listening to jazz, mixing cocktails and having a great time. Neiman still creates new Femlins for every issue and she remains nearly unchanged after five decades.
Playboy maintains an archive or LeRoy’s original Femlin drawings and exhibits many of them as part of its famous art collection. Painted by LeRoy in black ink, these artworks showcase not just the mischievous Femlin, but often also display original Playboy production stamps, the initials of art directors who approved the art, hand-written dates and other signs of the magazine’s production process.
LeRoy Neiman got his start at Playboy in 1954, less than a year after Hugh Hefner started the magazine. Neiman’s illustrations for Charles Beaumont’s story “Black Country” won Playboy its first art award, which was given by the Chicago Art Director’s Club. Since then he has become one of Playboy’s most beloved contributors as well as one of the most successful artists in the world.