(9.02.1896-12.1992) Alberto Joaquin Vargas Y Chavez was born in Arequipa, Peru, in 1896. At an early age, Alberto helped his father, an internationally recognized photographer, by retouching portrait photographs. As a young man, he studied in Europe until 1916, when World War I forced him to leave for home. On the way, he stopped in New York City and decided to remain in the United States.
Thus began an illustrious career that would span more than six decades and delight millions throughout the world. The "Vargas Girl" has since become an American icon.
In the 1920's Vargas became the exclusive painter of the dazzling Follies Girls for Florenz Ziegfeld. The Follies were the top of show business during the roaring twenties and included the most talented starlets in America; many of whom went on to become famous in Hollywood as well. Vargas' paintings from this period, in many cases among his best, demonstrated that he was an extraordinary fine artist. They are the works of an inspired young genius that had yet to be discovered by the public at large.
The depression brought an end to the lavish Ziegfeld productions, but a new monolithic entertainment industry was developing in Southern California. Alberto relocated to the Hollywood area and began working with such movie producers as Fox, Paramount, and Warner Brothers, painting promotional works of the stars and creating fabulous set designs.
In 1940, Vargas replaced George Petty (creator of the "Petty Girl") at Esquire magazine; from that time forward, Vargas' artwork became recognizable the world over. Reproduced monthly in Esquire, and yearly in incredibly popular Calendar publications, the "Varga Girl" was carried to virtually all corners of the globe by American GI's. But Vargas' paintings were more than just entertaining; they helped support America's efforts during WWII and Alberto was decorated by the US Government for his work.
During the 1950's, Alberto completed his now legendary "Legacy Nudes." These twelve masterful watercolor paintings were considered by Vargas to be his best work. Inspired by his love and concern for his wife Anna Mae, Vargas continually returned to each painting, working and reworking these watercolors until they were flawless. To truly comprehend the essence of Alberto one must understand his relationship with Anna Mae, his beloved wife and companion for forty-four years. As a couple, they protected and nourished one another through mutual devotion. United in love and aligned in purpose, their magic touched all who knew them.
From 1960 to 1975, Vargas was again in the international limelight through the monthly publishing of his paintings in Playboy magazine, thus bringing "Vargas Girls" to a whole new generation of admirers.
In all, Vargas' paintings have been reproduced more than one billion times before an adoring public who have come to love his art and respect his talents. His life and his legend live on, and perhaps the greatest tribute to his life's work is yet to be paid.
Alberto passed away in December, 1982, at the age of 86. No one has since approached his remarkable skill at capturing the unique quality and allure of the all-American girl. Already acknowledged as one of America's most famous painters, Alberto Vargas will also come to be known as one of America's finest watercolorists and chroniclers of 20th Century American female beauty.