FIFTY24SF Is proud to announce our upcoming Lower Haight Art Walk featuring a selection of limited edition prints by Alberto Vargas.
Born 9 February 1896 in Peru, Alberto Vargas was the son of a renowned photographer, Max Vargas, who had taught him how to use an airbrush by the time he was thirteen. In 1911, while accompanying Max on a trip to Paris, Alberto came upon the famous magazine La Vie Parisienne, and its sensuous front covers by Raphael Kirchner made a lasting impression on him. He studied in Zurich and Geneva before leaving Europe because of the war and arriving on Ellis Island in October 1916.
After moving to the US, Vargas' career took off during the Roaring Twenties with commissions pouring in from Harper's Bazaar, Paramount Studios, 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers and MGM. In 1939 Vargas gained US citizenship, the same year that Esquire Magazine, shortly after Esquire introduced the "Varga Girl Calendar" which sold better than any other calendar published up to that time. During the WWII years, Vargas further gained notoriety from a series of patriotic pin-ups for Hearst's American Weekly Magazine and his accommodating special requests from soldiers for mascots illustrations.In the 1950's he judged the Miss Universe Pageant, freelanced for fashion labels and continued to paint Hollywood stars during this time as well including the likes of Betty Grable, Ava Gardner and Marilyn Monroe. For his dénouement in 1958 Hugh Hefner, publisher of Playboy Magazine invited Vargas to contribute to Playboy Magazine on a monthly basis resulting in the production of over 152 works during the 60's and 70's including two front cover images. The photo-realism achieved through his use of watercolor and airbrush that Vargas was able to attain over the course of his career is was unmatched at the time and resulted in the founding of the "Vargas Award", awarded annually by Airbrush Action Magazine. Past recipients of the award include notable artists such as Hajime Sorayama, Todd Schorr and Scott Jacobs among others.
Upon his wife's death in 1974, the artist sadly lost much of his interest in painting and life. However in In the late 70's he worked on an autobiography with Reid Austin entitled "Vargas". He also produced album covers for The Cars for their "Candy-O" Album and two covers for Bernadette Peters. He died in Los Angeles, CA in December 1982.