Artist: Alberto Vargas

Joaquin Alberto Vargas y Chávez has long been considered the godfather of pinups. Transitioning from more reserved depictions of women in his early WWII-era paintings for Esquire Magazine (many of which would go on to inspire the nose art of American bombers) to idealizations that blended tongue-in-cheek humor with a more sexual demeanor in the soft finish of his early work, perfect for Playboy, Vargas not only established a predominant style, he managed to transcend it with an equally iconic vision 20 years later.

"Varga Girls" lived next door, in our neighborhoods, and they had sisters, and they all lived together, and had martinis in sheer negligee, and intentionally left their curtains open knowing we were watching. Every one of them had that wayward twinkle in their eye. And you can spot them a mile away by their slender fingers and toes and red nails. Vargas knew the American male desire well, enough so to judge the Miss Universe contests in the late Fifties, have his work showcased by Playboy and grace the album covers of The Cars and Bernadette Peters, among countless others. There was no before Vargas, there is only after.

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