Photograph: ‘Gregor Arax – Pierre Laurent’ 1948

June 2013


Gregor Arax (Krikor Djololian) (European, 1897-1975). 'Pierre Laurent' 1948


Gregor Arax (Krikor Djololian) (European, 1897-1975)
Pierre Laurent
Nice, France



A photograph that I have been scanning for Nick Henderson, the negative of which he bought at auction. A great negative, well exposed, with an unusual background for a physique photograph. American? English? French would you believe. And the only way I know that is my enlarging discarded newspaper at bottom left. It’s fascinates me the information that can be found in old photographs by enlarging details!


More information

Nick says the information on the auction was this:

“Original vintage photographic negative by the renowned French physique photographer Gregor Arax of Pierre Laurent taken in Nice 1948.”

Gregor Arax was France’s greatest physique photographer.

“Gregor Arax of Arax Studio… was a Greek national [this is incorrect, he was born in Turkey], who photographed male nudes in Paris from the 1930’s to 1960’s. He photographed many of the elite bodybuilders of his time, including Steve Reeves.” (text from Vintage Male Physique blog)

More fantastic photographs by Arax can be found on the Vintage Male Physique blog and the Homodesiribus blog.


Finally some more information on Gregor Arax only published in 2021!

He is not Greek as stated above but was born in Turkey.

I wish I knew who the author was, I would like to thank them for the information.


Greatest of all bodybuilding photographers

“Krikor Djololian, as Gregor Arax was officially called, was born on 27 February 1897 in Adapazar (Turkey) in the bosom of a very humble and poor family…

In 1922, Krikor and his mother, Mariam, emigrated to Paris, where he resumed his activities as a photographer. He opens a studio at 9 Rue Papillon which he calls Studio Arax. At the beginning of the 1930s it moved to number 31 Boulevard Raspail. During this stage he devoted himself to studio portraits, ballroom dance championships and working as a photojournalist, collaborating with numerous Armenian and Parisian publications portraying the social life of the Parisian Armenian community. At this stage of his working life, an interest in photographing the French capital during the war, the liberation of Paris and the postwar period will also resurface.

From 1934 to 1975, with a short hiatus caused by the Second World War, he began to collaborate with the British magazine Health and Strength. During this time, he traveled the roads of France in his curious and unique car (a Fiat 500 that was better known by the alias of baby mouse), to photograph and immortalize the winners of the bodybuilding competitions of the federations of ‘physical culture’ in France, and occasionally in Belgium, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. …

A few years after the end of the Second World War, photography related to the cult of the body grew steadily, thus emerging the true Golden Age for physical culture magazines. Obviously, the editors realized the commercial vein of this new photographic product, acquired mostly by an elite public, with great purchasing power, who did not skimp on expenses and who, always or almost always, received them clandestinely under the title of artistic magazines. This product led magazines to publish increasingly sensual and erotic images, but always without showing genitalia, however, those who wanted to get full nude photos (which included erections and rarely explicit sexual acts) could get them by asking for them custom made.

Curiously, in a country as puritanical as the United States was then, it is where the greatest demand arises, which causes photographic studios to proliferate. Arax is quickly claimed by North American publications attracted by his talent and his already consolidated reputation, and without thinking much he joins the bandwagon by expanding his business with a new portfolio of more artistic than sporty physical models, and with a style of posing that he produced. images that used to show frontal nudes with total naturalness, dedicating a large part of their production to these images. In order to carry out the sale by mail of this type of images but to expose the genitals, Arax devised the system of covering with a thin layer of gouache in the shape of a false fig leaf the virile attributes of the model, which disappeared easily with a little water once in the hands of the buyer. …

But if all these years were very prosperous for Arax, they were also quite tumultuous when a group of photographers like him brought to life that phenomenon called photo. beefcake. This word immediately conjures up the image of a young man flaunting his physique, but has actually been used as a blanket term for a genre of photography that is as American as jazz music and yet was actively repressed by the Bureau itself. United States Post Office and censored by law enforcement officials, who believed that the nude male form was inherently pornographic. In the early 1970s, ARAX was so fed up with these persecutions that he went so far as to say: “Comparing my photography to pornography is like comparing classical music to rock and roll.”

Anonymous. “Greatest of all bodybuilding photographers,” on the World Today News website, May 30, 2021 [Online] Cited 21/09/2022




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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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