Mario Chávez Marion and his pin-up girls.

Mario Chávez Marion and his pin-up girls.

Rogelio Agrasánchez Jr. ©2015

Mario Chávez Marion was an outstanding Mexican graphic artist and painter. He was born Juan Mario Chávez Verdugo in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, the son of Juan D. Chávez and María Victoria Verdugo. His father was an entrepreneur.

Young Mario spent some time in Mexico City, studying art at the prestigious Academia de San Carlos. In May of 1938, he went to California to continue his professional training. There he stayed at the Heyn family’s home. Charlie and Francisca Heyn were his uncle and aunt. According to the U.S. Federal Census of 1940, Mario was at the time working as the librarian’s assistant at some motion picture studios. It was a non-paid position. Most probably, Mario accepted the job because of his interest in the film business.

It is said Chávez Marion was one of the animation artists behind Disney’s Pinocchio, but no documents proving the assertion have been found as yet. However, given that other Mexican artists worked at Disney’s at the time, it is possible Mario had obtained a post there through them. At any rate, his great talent and impeccable drawings could have landed him a position anywhere.

Chávez Marion was heavily influenced by pin-up art while in the United States. Pin-up girls were extremely popular during WWII, and Mario’s style is evocative of Alberto Vargas’s and George Petty’s works of that period.

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Two exquisite pin-up girls by Chávez Marion, showing the inflluence of George Petty and Alberto Vargas.

Two exquisite pin-up girls by Chávez Marion, showing the inflluence of George Petty and Alberto Vargas.

The artist went back to Mexico in the middle 1940s. In 1946, he and Jorge V. Vidal were the “cover artists” at the lavish Celuloide magazine. Mario was in charge of designing covers and sometimes centerfold posters. He also illustrated some articles and ads. Additionally, his gorgeous pin-ups appeared in calendars published by well-known firms, such as Galas de México.

María Antonieta Pons como Cleopatra en 'La vida íntima de Marco Antonio y Cleopatra' (Roberto Gavaldón, 1946).

María Antonieta Pons as Cleopatra en ‘La vida íntima de Marco Antonio y Cleopatra’ (Roberto Gavaldón, 1946), in a dazzling centerfold poster by Chávez Marion.

We reproduce here a few samples of Chávez Marion’s works from those years, made with two different techniques. One technique was similar to the underpainting using airbrush seen in AlbertoVargas’s works, which rendered exquisite effects and neat lines. The most dazzling example of his use of said technique is the movie poster for El sexo fuerte, a film of 1946 that stars Mapy Cortés –back then one of the brightest stars of Mexican cinema-. The figure is stylized and stunning; feet and head are smaller than normal. The second technique used by Chávez Marion was that of dry brush, like in the centerfold poster depicting María Antonieta Pons in her leading-lady costume for La vida íntima de Marco Antonio y Cleopatra, also made in 1946.

Stunning poster for 'El sexo fuerte' (Fernando Cortés, 1946), showing the stylized figure of the star, Mapy Cortés.

Stunning poster for ‘El sexo fuerte’ (Fernando Cortés, 1946), showing the stylized figure of the star, Mapy Cortés. Undoubtedly, this is a unique movie poster.

Ad for 'El sexo fuerte' published in 'Celuloide', designed by Chávez Marion.

Ad for ‘El sexo fuerte’ published in ‘Celuloide’, designed by Chávez Marion.

Here we see Mapy Cortés in costume in an 'El sexo fuerte' scene. She was petite, as we can notice; her proportions quite different from the idealized images in the poster and ad.

Here we see Mapy Cortés in costume in an ‘El sexo fuerte’ scene. She was petite, as we can notice; her proportions quite different from the idealized images in the poster and ad.

Chávez Marion usually selected gorgeous actresses for the covers of Celuloide. His portraits were really unique, like the one of María Teresa Squella, here reproduced.

María Teresa Squella, gorgeous Chilean actress, portrayed by Chávez Marion on the cover of 'Celuloide'.

María Teresa Squella, gorgeous Chilean actress, portrayed by Chávez Marion on the cover of ‘Celuloide’.

Both graphic art and paintings by Chávez Marion reveal his sheer admiration for feminine beauty. His fascination with María Félix is well known. The artist made two portraits of her; in them, Ms. Félix is seen as a nature goddess. One of those portraits, Saliendo del jardín, was sold in auction at Christie’s for a bidding price more than 1000% higher than anticipated by experts (its estimated value was $1,000-$1,500 and was sold for $17,000).

Here we see two ink drawings portraying María Félix, made by Chávez Marion in the late 1940s.

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Chávez Marion made movie posters for some Mexican production companies. The latest we have found is the one made for El pecado de Laura, which shows Meche Barba as a charming pin-up in superb primary colors.

Looking at his works,it is evident some research should be done about the life and career of Mario Chávez Marion.

This image and the one that follows show some of the fashion drawings Chávez Marion made for illustrating articles in magazines.

This image shows  some of the fashion drawings Chávez Marion made for illustrating articles in magazines.= like ‘Celuloide’.

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