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Monday, June 5, 2017

José Luis Benício

Marilyn Monroe by Jose Luis Benicio. Diamonds, not to mention satins, makeup, and a good hairdresser, are a girl's best friend.
Despite what the suggestive images below might suggest, this is not about glamorous movie stars. Some might argue that so-called glamorous movie stars are not, in and of themselves, glamorous at all. In most cases, it takes a whole team of designers, seamstresses, makeup artist, drama coaches, fitness trainers, photographers and, yes, artists to make entertainment celebrities appear glamorous. The cheesecake or beefcake beneath all the glamour are just the raw materials. Take away the glamour team and these people are much more like the rest of us than we might think. Ironically, our glamour queens and kings wouldn't have it any other way. It allows them to wash their faces; don some ordinary duds; and a pair of shades; then blend in with the rest of us. Deglamorizing allows them at least a modest chance at privacy and reality that money cannot buy.
José Luis Benício
Instead, this is about a Brazilian artist whose palette seemed to literally drip with glamour. Jose Luis Benicio was born in 1936 near the town of Rio Prado, (southern) Brazil. Originally a teenage pianist, he abandoned music to devote himself to drawing, in a career spanning more than fifty years he has created thousands of Pocketbook covers, more than three-hundred movie posters, and hundreds of disc covers, print ads, and book illustrations. Beginning his career as an apprentice designer in Porto Alegre at the age of 16, Benicio moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1953, working in the various art departments of advertising agencies and magazine. From 1961, he began working for McCann Erickson Advertising, doing important jobs for Coca-Cola, Esso, and other major clients.

Once called "dime store novels,' though very few such
American outlets stooped to handling such titillating trash.
In the 1960s, Benicio gained fame by drawing voluptuous women to cover pulp pocket books of the late Editora Monterrey, particularly the Giselle series (above). Benicio was quite adept at handling women with curves and the exaltation of the female body, much like Vargas, the famous designer of American Playboy. Benicio became known as the "king of pin-ups" in Brazil. He claimed his greatest influence was the work of the American artist, Norman Rockwell. There's no indication Rockwell returned the compliment. By the 70's Benicio was the most requested and most famous poster illustrator in Brazil, though he was forced to quibble and negotiate with the censorship of the military dictatorship to get his works approved.

Pretty tame stuff as compared to Benicia's book covers.
Clark Gable and Carol Lombard,
Jose Luis Benicio
Benicio continued to be a very busy man all through the 1980s. He worked with gouache paint, until the inauguration of President Fernando Collor, who closed the Embrafilme and paralyzed movie produc-tion in Brazil for lack of financing. It was during this time that Benicio began work-ing with American studios even as the brush began to be replaced by the com-puter, making the execution of works cheaper. His glamour portraits soon be-came less requested by the cinema. With more than 50 years of his career, illus-trating architectural projects and illustrat-ing works for the magazines Veja, Playboy and Isto É, among others, nowadays Beni-cio devotes most of his time to advertisements for internal magazines in his studio in Rio de Janeiro.

In 2011, the publisher, Reference Press, released the art book Sex & Crime: The Book Cover Art of Benicio. At the end of 2012, the publisher Opera Graphica launched E Benicio Created the Woman by the journalist Gonçalo Junior, which relates the artist's personal and professional history while bringing to view more than 200 illustrations made by the artist throughout the decades. The book is a revised, updated, and expanded with works by Benicio--a profile of the master of pin-ups and movie posters released in 2006.

Personifying glamour in gouache.

I'd buy a refrigerator from her.
Wouldn't you?


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