‘The eyes are the windows to the soul’
As a young girl into my adolescent years, I grew up in a house full of testosterone. Where every Monday night was wrestling night, their favorite war and action movies were constantly replayed, and I clearly remember smelling that distinct odor of sweat and feet coming from the room we once all shared. I would go to school and see my classmates with these little purses, their nails all polished up in bright colors, their lips sparkling from the over use their pink lip gloss and here I was wearing my uncle’s hand me down ‘Bulls’ shirt with a rip in the armpit, and wearing socks that were too big for me. All that changed the night I saw ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’ starting Lauren Bacall, Betty Grable, and Marilyn Monroe. It had been the makeup, the clothes, the way they looked so put together and beautiful that was just mesmerizing. They were the staple of what a real woman should look, act like, feel like. But it was not only beauty that struck me, but it was their confidence as well. It was then my love for the 1940s and the Golden Era came to life. As I grew and started becoming more aware of my sexuality, that’s when I came across Bettie Page. Known as the 1950’s fetish underground Queen of Pin-ups, she had become quite known as the girl you would not bring home to meet the parents. After much of her images were destroyed due to the ban in sexualized imagery, Bettie had disappeared and had been forgotten. It wasn’t until the early 1990’s with the work of Olivia De Berardinis that Bettie made her way back into mainstream and had truly found her home, capturing the eyes and imagination of people once again. What drew me most of Olivia’s artwork towards Bettie was the female expressiveness of it. In each painting that you see, Olivia brings out a certain emotion. It could range from happiness, to playfulness, and her most popular a seduction look. What I love about her work is the use of fantasy, bold colors, emotion, and the richness of being a woman. I find her work very liberating and pleasing to the eye, she uses women with such power and at the same time vulnerability that I personality would want to see in other females like myself. Her styles are very versatile, Olivia plays with her imagination one minute using a portrait like style the next using more of an expressive approach. She plays with fantasy as well, for example subjecting her muses as mermaids, cowgirls, pirates, hybrid of an animal of sorts, and characters in stories or legends. Throughout the years I have always wondered why Olivia has never willingly painted men, her first and only had been for ‘Dita Von Teese’s Strip Strip Hooray’ tour which showcased a male French burlesque dancer name Romeo. She had drew him as he was performing his act (More of a James Bond kind of act), since then she has never once drawn a six pack again *laughs*.
- Another question I would have for Olivia is throughout the years she has had many muses, but why does she most often always seem to go back to Bettie Page?
- Is there something about her that Olivia just finds inspiration from? If so what?
- And lastly how does Olivia get her inspiration? Where does she get most of her inspiration from?
Since the 90’s her artwork has grown much, just like any other artist, she has changed her technique and style often. I have noticed quite a pattern with her, in the beginning she started with much pigmentation, using bold colors. Then as the 2000’s hit she gathered much of her inspiration and style from Alberto Vargas, a 1940’s pin-up artist who had lived during the war of WW2 and had painted many successful paintings during that era. His paintings depicted women in a full body pose with a plain white background, but the concept had been quite ‘cheesecake’ meaning very feminine. Later Olivia went back to her color, but with this time more aggression, meaning her color was even more apparent. It wasn’t until last year that I had the privilege to see Olivia’s artwork in person. Dita Von Teese had a special gallery in the waiting room (before the seating for her burlesque show) dedicated to Olivia’s artwork of the show. She had paintings of each one of the performers during their acts, but none were more as extravagant as Dita’s paintings. Olivia’s signature color had made a comeback in her paintings that displayed Dita, maybe she found more of an inspiration within Dita? At the end of it all, Olivia is just one of the many artists out there that find their inspiration within women.
“Men admire imagery of women and women admire imagery of…women.”-Olivia De Berardinis
Olivia De Berardinis official website: http://eolivia.com/index.asp
Art Archives fan page dedicated to Olivia’s early work: http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/pinupart/Olivia-De-Berardinis.html
Some of my favorite Bettie Page Paintings:
Portrait style paintings:
Expressive style paintings:
Dita Von Teese Strip Strip Hooray Tour paintings:
By Beatriz E. Trujillo