Alberto Vargas (9 February 1896 - 30 December 1982) was a noted painter of pin-up girls and erotica. Born in Arequipa, Peru, Joaquin Alberto Vargas y Chavez came 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. He became famous in the 1940s as the creator of iconic World War II era pin-ups for Esquire magazine known as "Vargas Girls." The nose art of many World War II aircraft was adapted from these Esquire pin-ups.
His work was typically a combination of watercolor and airbrush. His mastery of the airbrush is acknowledged by the fact that the highest achievement in the community of airbrush artistry is the Vargas Award, awarded annually by Airbrush Action Magazine. His images would often portray elegantly dressed, semi-nude to nude women of idealized proportions. Vargas' artistic trait would be slender fingers and toes, with nails often painted red.
Vargas is widely regarded as one of the finest artists in his genre. He also served as a judge for the Miss Universe beauty contest in 1956-58. Notable women painted by Vargas include Olive Thomas, Billie Burke, Nita Naldi, Marilyn Miller, Paulette Goddard and Ruth Etting.
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