Doing pin-up art well is tricky. It's not enough to just have an attractive woman; there has to be posing, clothing (or a stylish lack thereof), and something original that makes it stand out as not just another pretty person. Olivia de Berardinis has been doing pin-up art for years, her work has appeared everywhere from Playboy to the covers of Heavy Metal, and some of her best work is collected in the two coffee table books Let Them Eat Cheesecake and Second Slice.
Olivia has produced work using everything from pencils to watercolors to airbrushing, and the results are always stunning. Eschewing straight nudity, Olivia's characters are dressed in everything from glamorous lingerie to nothing but tattoos. The subjects vary from the historic to science fiction (love her Zebra Lady paintings!) to, well, cheesecake. No matter the source, the result is amazing.

Olivia's subjects include those who model for her (including Pamela Anderson and Julie Strain) to people from old films and photographs (such as Bettie Page and Josephine Baker.) Olivia captures many different traits in her paintings -- sexiness, playfulness, serenity, toughness, exoticism -- and no matter what Olivia seeks to portray, the results are always spectacular.
Let Them Eat Cheesecake and Second Slice each have an index with the paintings' title, model, and often comments from Olivia on the work or the model. The first book has an introduction from High Hefner, while the second has comments from Olivia on her technique and creative process.
Both Let Them Eat Cheesecake and Second Slice are extraordinary collection of beautiful works from possibly the greatest pin-up artist ever. (The occasional comments on specific paintings are also pretty nice.) These volumes are each amazing, and the two together are ideal.
Overall grades: A+ (for both)

Reviewed by James Lynch

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