Maybe it’s because I grew up with a pin-up mom, or maybe it’s just my artistic appreciation of curve, shape and symmetry, but I have always loved stylized photos of women’s legs. Especially women’s legs with shoes — an appreciation shared, and beautifully manifested, by artist Alberto Vargas. I’ve always enjoyed vintage-style cheesecake art.
My mom, leggy in one of her centerfolds. Sorry I have to censor the rack, but Photobucket is prude.
A picture book by Olivia, Let Them Eat Cheesecake, is one of my faves… but I didn’t have any of Vargas’s works close at hand until recently. I was reminded of his sassy style when his art was used as a backdrop at the Art Deco Fashion Show held here in January, and then I found this incredible hardcover book at Barnes & Noble just by chance. It’s oversized and all the pics are in color. Many of the works are from his estate, and due to legalities untangled not too long ago, haven’t been seen in decades. I certainly hadn’t seen a lot of these images.
My favorite is the post-atomic Dali’esque dark fantasy lady, but there are some really neat works of his from the 20s and 30s which are a bit different from the style he’s most famous for (from when he worked for Esquire and Playboy, respectively). There’s also his very first drawing depicting pubic hair, from when Playboy went full frontal in 1972 — the text talks about his dismay over this. (The book is interesting but not very well-written, unfortunately.)
As you can see, I was also reading Book III of The Molting when I snapped this pic.
I love how the layout artist did the TOC in the Vargas book.
But Wait… There’s More!
A snapshot of the artist with some of his canvasses.
An early Vargas.
Right now, I am in the middle-ish of the definitive book on Leonor Fini. It’s a huge hardcover, hundreds of pages long, filled with text detailing her life from childhood till death, and many, many drawings and paintings of hers, not to mention her contemporaries, lovers and friends (Dali, Ernst) and pictures of her by several famous photographers — many are by one of my all-time favorites, Henri Cartier-Bresson… but I can’t post them here because they’re too explicit (by provincial Photobucket standards, anyway).
I first saw this book in San Francisco at the Weinstein Gallery, where an extensive exhibit of Fini’s art, furniture, and assorted designs was on display. I’ve been thinking about it ever since, so I’m glad I took the plunge and bought my own (Amazon had it, discounted). I love reading about the lives of gregarious “rock star” artists in the 1930s. Fini was the toast of Paris and Manhattan around this time… two of my favorite cities.
The Fini book, and also part 2 to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which I plan on reading soon.
Photo I took at the Weinstein Gallery, showing one side of a dressing screen painted by Fini.
Here is the other side.
From the Fini book.
More of her work.
Fini’s felines (she was, by all accounts, a real “crazy cat-lady”!).
This is not from the book, nor is it Leonor Fini, but it’s a Henri Cartier-Bresson photo I adore, entitled “Martine’s Legs”.
Another photographer I admire greatly, and one who fetishized the female form, is the late Guy Bourdin. I’d like to have the definitive book on him, Exhibit A, but it’s going for nearly $400 online.
I love this Bourdin so much, I have it in my iPhone photo gallery. If I had room on my walls, I’d buy a print.
One of his most famous images.
Love this, too.
A leggy image from a rather mysterious British photographer from the 30s, Count Theodore Zichy.
By contemporary photographer, George Holz.
A gorgeous shot by Edward Weston, 1936.
I don’t know who took these two pics posted below, but I’ve had them in my computer for years. I think they’re stunning.
One of Richard Avedon’s most famous photos.
I can’t wait to open up this huge coffee table book I also have, one on Richard Avedon… but I must. I have too many other things ahead of it, so it’s staying in the shrink-wrap for while longer.
So, that’s it on the literature and legs for now. (Don’t even get me started on shoes!)