Wessel + O’Connor Fine Art is pleased to present
an exhibit of vintage photographs from the Athletic Model Guild,
the 1950's Physique photography studio run by Bob Mizer for almost
50 years out of Los Angeles. Originally conceived as a talent agency
of male archetypes for the booming film industry, it would manage
to survive the heavy-handed morality crusades of the 40's and 50's.
With thousands of servicemen idle after WWII, Mizer could find plenty
of models on Venice's Muscle Beach or the streets of Hollywood.
He created a one-man industry of underground photographs that could
be purchased via mail-order, selected from his self-published magazine,
Physique Pictorial. He started it in 1951 after his advertisements
were refused by bodybuilder and health magazines of the day.
Many actors and muscle men, gay and straight, got their start posing
for Mizer. Joe Dallesandro, who would go on to star in Andy Warhol’s
films and pose for Calvin Klein ads, was one of his models. Ed Fury
and Glenn Corbett, of 77 Sunset Strip were among some of Mizer's
other more well-known subjects.
As the critic Michael Duncan has stated: “Mizer showed his
models as young gods, worthy of respect. A homegrown classicist,
he presented an idealized side of desire that the ancient Greeks
would have understood.”
The history of AMG and its sociological ramifications were explored
in filmmaker Thom Fitzgerald's documentary Beefcake in 2000. Mizer
would leave behind almost 1 million negatives of the men he photographed
throughout the course of his career.
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