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 40s and 50s.
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.