Posts Tagged ‘bodybuilding

23
Nov
22

Text: “Bench Press” chapter from Marcus Bunyan’s PhD research ‘Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male’, RMIT University, Melbourne, 2001

November 2022

 

Eugen Sandow (German, 1867-1925) 'Instructions for the use of Sandow's spring grip dumb-bells' Between 1900 and 1909 (detail)

 

Eugen Sandow (German, 1867-1925)
Instructions for the use of Sandow’s spring grip dumb-bells (detail)
Between 1900 and 1909
(23 pages): illustrations; 18 cm
National Library of Australia, Canberra viewed 10 November 2022

 

 

Since the demise of my old website, my PhD research Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male (RMIT University, Melbourne, 2001) has no longer been available online.

I have now republished the second of twelve chapters, “Bench Press”, so that it is available to read. More chapters will be added as I get time. I hope the text is of some interest…

Dr Marcus Bunyan November 2022

 

 

“Bench Press” chapter from Marcus Bunyan’s PhD research Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male RMIT University, Melbourne, 2001

Through plain language English (not academic speak) the text of this chapter investigates the development of gym culture, its ‘masculinity’1, ‘lifestyle’, and the images used to represent it. The text also examines the positive and negative effects of this culture on the individual and collective lives and bodies of gay men.

NB. This chapter should be read in conjunction with the Historical Pressings and Re-Pressentation chapters for a fuller overview of the development of the muscular male body. This chapter also contains descriptions of sexual activity.

 

Keywords

The Cult of Muscularity, male bodies, queer bodies, bodybuilding, gym culture, masculinity, images of masculinity, development of gym culture, gay men and gym culture, muscular mesomorph, gay lifestyle

 

Sections

  • The Cult of Muscularity
  • The Body and the Social Environment
  • Science, Photography and the Body
  • Before / after photographs
  • Power and the Muscular Body
  • The Phallic Armoured Body
  • Muscle Gods, Hot Jocks, and Gay Desire

Word count 5,000

 

 

Bench Press

 

The Cult of Muscularity

 

“… muscularity is a key term in appraising men’s bodies … this comes from men themselves. Muscularity is the sign of power – natural, achieved, phallic.”

.
Richard Dyer 2

 

 

Eugen Sandow (German, 1867-1925) 'Instructions for the use of Sandow's spring grip dumb-bells' Between 1900 and 1909 (detail)

 

Eugen Sandow (German, 1867-1925)
Instructions for the use of Sandow’s spring grip dumb-bells (detail)
Between 1900 and 1909
(23 pages): illustrations; 18 cm
National Library of Australia, Canberra viewed 10 November 2022

 

 

‘The Cult of Muscularity’ was formed in the last decade of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century in a reaction to the perceived effeminisation of heterosexual masculinity. Sporting and war heroes became national icons. Muscle proved the ‘masculinity’ of men, fit for power, fit to dominate women and less powerful men. The ‘ideal’ of the perfect masculine body can be linked to a concern for the position and power of men in an industrialised world.3

The position of the active, heroic hetero-male was under attack from the passivity of industrialisation, from the expansion of women’s rights and their ability to become breadwinners, and through the naming of deviant sexualities that were seen as a threat to the stability of society. By naming deviant sexualities they became visible to the general public for the fist time, creating apprehension in the minds of men gazing upon the bodies of other men lest they be thought of as ‘pansies’. (Remember that it was in this decade the trials of Oscar Wilde had taken place in England after he was accused of being a sodomite by The Marquis of Queensbury. It is perhaps no coincidence that the rules that governed boxing, a very masculine sport in which a man could become a popular hero, were named after his accuser. By all accounts he was a brute of a man who despised and beat his son Lord Alfred Douglas and sought revenge on his partner, Oscar Wilde, for their sexual adventures).

Muscles became the sign of heterosexual power, prowess, and virility. A man had control over his body and his physical world. His appearance affected how he interacted with this world, how he saw himself, and was seen by others, and how closely he matched the male physical ‘ideal’ impacted on his own levels of self-esteem. The gymnasium became a meeting point for exercise, for health, for male bonding, and to show off your undoubted ‘masculinity’.

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Untitled [Gym group possibly German/Prussian]' c. 1890-1910

 

Anonymous photographer
Untitled [Gym group possibly German/Prussian]
c. 1890-1910
Silver gelatin photograph
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Ultimately, going to the gym has more to do with fitting a certain ‘ideal’ image of ‘masculinity’, that of the muscular mesomorph, than it has to do with getting fit. Aerobic activity such as swimming or running are much more effective ways of getting fit. But what gym work does much better than aerobic activity is that it builds muscle mass. And for a man that wants to be recognised for his physical presence, having more muscle is the epitome of the ‘ideal’.

In a patriarchal society, in other words in a society where men have power over women and other men, to have a masculine body was / is seen as the opposite of being feminine or gay – it emphasises the difference between the position of men and women / gays in society. They are seen as inferior whilst a mesomorphic body confirms ‘real’ men in positions of power over others. No wonder homosexuals found muscular working class men (‘rough trade’) so enticing a sexual fantasy in the early part of this century, and still do to this day.

Still, in being named by the majority limp-wristed ‘nancies’ and by accepting that label now historically ourselves, we forget that not all gay men were pansies with effeminate mannerisms, even in those times.

In contemporary society the division between straight and gay ‘masculine’ bodies has diminished. At dance parties it is now difficult to tell which is the gay body and which is the straight. In seeking acceptance and assimilation into the general society gay men have moulded their bodies on the ‘ideal’ of the muscular mesomorphic model. Both gay and straight men are likely to be striving after the same muscular mesomorphic ideal so much so that they may both become homogenised into a non-feminine, paradoxical asexual masculinity, where very little sexuality exudes from any-body at all!

 

Siegmund Klein – 'Strength & Health' (March 1933) Vol. 1 No. 4

 

Siegmund Klein – Strength & Health (March 1933) Vol. 1 No. 4

 

 

The Body and the Social Environment

The development of ‘The Cult of Muscularity’ may also have parallels in other social environments which were evolving at the turn of the century. For example, I think that the construction of the muscular mesomorphic body can be linked to the appearance of the first skyscrapers in cities in the United States of America. Skyscrapers were a way increasing visibility and surface area within the limited space of a crowded city. One of the benefits of owning a skyscraper like the Chrysler Building in New York, with its increased surface area, was that it got the company noticed. The same can be said of the muscular body. Living and interacting in the city, the body itself is inscribed by social interaction with its environment, its systems of regulation and its memories and historicities (his-tor-i-city, ‘tor’ being a large hill or formation of rocks).

Like a skyscraper, the muscular body has more surface area, is more visible, attracts more attention to its owner and is more admired. The owner of this body is desired because of his external appearance which may give him a feeling of superiority and power over others. However, this body image may also lead to low self-esteem and heightened body dissatisfaction in the owner (causing anxiety and insecurity in his identity) as he constantly strives to maintain and enhance his body to fulfil expectations he has of himself.

Of course, body image is never a static concept as the power of muscular images of the male body resides in their perceived value as a commodity. This value is re-enforced through social moral values, through fluid personal interactions, and through the desire of self and others for this type of body image; it is a hierarchical system of valuation. It relies on what type of body is seen as socially desirable and ‘beautiful’ in a collective sense, even though physical attractiveness is very much a personal choice.

In the four photographs from the 1930s (below) we can see a range of ethnic men portrayed, all seeking the attainment of what was, for them, the perfection of the muscular human form. Indian, Chinese, Black American and Phillipino are all represented. Compare this to today’s cast of body types from a gay muscle fitness video (soft core pornography video aimed squarely at the gay market) and you can see how the broad inclusion of different ethnic types has been tailored to the demographics of its particular buying public (‘masculine’ white gay male).

Today what is desirable in a masculine body seems to be even more limited in its stereotyping than was the case in the 1930s. Then, at least, there was a diversified range of ethnicity. Now, within the ‘lifestyle’ health and fitness magazines, the paradigm for the desirable male body is predominantly the tanned, toned, muscular white male. Thankfully, professional buff, body-builders do still come in all colours!

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Anselus T. Del Rosario' c. 1930

 

Anonymous photographer
Anselus T. Del Rosario
c. 1930
in Berry, Mark. Physical Improvement. Vol. II. Philadelphia: Milo Publishing Company, 1930, p. 78
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

“There is something unusual about the back of this young Phillipino, Anselus T. Del Rosario. The pose is rather original and offers suggestion to others.”

 

Anonymous photographers. 'Three bodybuilders' c. 1930

 

(left to right)

Anonymous photographer
Cheah Chin Poh
c. 1930
in Berry, Mark. Physical Improvement. Vol. II. Philadelphia: Milo Publishing Company, 1930, p. 261
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

Anonymous photographer
Prof. C. C. Shah
c. 1930
in Berry, Mark. Physical Improvement. Vol. II. Philadelphia: Milo Publishing Company, 1930, p. 261
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

Anonymous photographer
Wesley Williams
c. 1930
in Berry, Mark. Physical Improvement. Vol. II. Philadelphia: Milo Publishing Company, 1930, p. 154
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Science, Photography and the Body

In the Victorian and Edwardian eras the knowledge of science, such as the science of physical fitness for example, allowed the body to become an object that was subject to technical expertise. Physical fitness was taken up by governments and their armies to enforce standards of fitness for recruits, the medical examination ensuring suitability for service and the fitness regime ensuring that all bodies were interchangeable and replaceable in the event of death on the battlefield. The body became a site of intervention; it became malleable and plastic, subject to the demands of the self and State. This trend continues at an unabated pace today especially within the personal sphere; in the ‘miracles’ of steroid enhancement, plastic surgery, implants and liposuction all there to help you attain the ‘perfect’ body. Now ALL bodies can start to look alike, interchangeable one with another.

Photography, also a relatively new science in that era (photography is both an art and a science), confirmed the ‘truth’ of the power of the muscular body through documentary evidence. The camera acted to legitimise the concerns of men over their body image through relationship of power to the practice of representation. Surveillance of the self became a major factor in the construction of your social identity. Through photographs you could judge for yourself whether you measured up to the ‘ideals’ put forward as valuable by society. Therefore images of muscular mesomorphs can and do affect the self-esteem of individuals through a powerful semiotic system that is embedded in the idealised body factually re-presented in a photograph.

This power is validated because people know the key to interpret the coded ‘sign’ language through which photographs, and indeed all images, speak. In neglecting to acknowledge alternative significations present within this semiotically coded power structure there is the opportunity for one dominant image to be chosen selectively over other types of less ‘valuable’ body images, eventually leading to the possible loss of the key to decode the desirability of ‘other’ body images.

The problem with dominant images that promote the masculinity and power of the muscular mesomorphic body is that they portray one supposed objective truth which is impossible, for there can be can many changing ‘truths’ (viewed from many subjective and objective positions).4 Personally, I believe we should see things not solely as they are from an objective point of view and not purely from an appeal to an “actively struggled for” subjectivity (as argued for by David Smail), but perhaps emerging from a knowledge of the fluid nature of truth, an ever changing combination of many variable truths. Being true to ourselves does not require a one-eyed point of view for we must try to see things from many different points of view to appreciate that there are many shifting, non-final subjective, objective and variable ‘truths’ in life.

Images can be a fabrication just as easily as they are supposed to speak the language of an objective ‘truth’. For example, in the 1870s Dr. Barnardo had photographs taken that showed rough, dirty, and dishevelled children arriving at his homes, and then paired them with photographs of the same children bright as a new pin, happy and working in the homes afterwards. These photographs were used to sell the story of children saved from poverty and oppression and happy in the homes; they appeared on cards which were sold to raise money to support the work of these homes. Dr. Barnardo was taken to court when one such pair of photographs was found to be a fabrication, an ‘artistic fiction’.5

Photographs can be used not only as a tool of observation but as a commodity, to advertise, support and sell the existence of a regime of power that controls the body, in the case of Dr. Barnardo the body of the child. In this way the body of the child becomes a commodity too.

 

Before / after photographs

Anonymous photographer. 'M. J. Poncela' c. 1930

 

Anonymous photographer
M. J. Poncela
c. 1930
in Berry, Mark. Physical Improvement. Vol. II. Philadelphia: Milo Publishing Company, 1930, p. 211
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

 

Anonymous photographer. 'George Renzi, Jr.' c. 1930

 

Anonymous photographer
George Renzi, Jr.
c. 1930
in Berry, Mark. Physical Improvement. Vol. II. Philadelphia: Milo Publishing Company, 1930, p. 210
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Untitled' c. 1952

 

Anonymous photographer
Untitled
c. 1952
‘Before photo/after photo, 35 day Johnson bodybuilding program advertisement’, in Rader, Peary (ed.,). Iron Man. Vol. 12. Dec-Feb. 1952, No. 4. Alliance, Nebraska: Iron Man Publishing Co., 1952, pp. 26-27.
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

 

Anonymous photographer. 'The New Theory of Evolution (Unretouched photographs taken over a period of less than 12 weeks)' 1998

 

Anonymous photographer
The New Theory of Evolution (Unretouched photographs taken over a period of less than 12 weeks)
1998
Experimental and Applied Sciences advertisement, 1998, in Low, Cheh N. (ed.,). Exercise for Men Only. New York: Chelo Publishing, December 1998, pp. 2-3.

 

 

The same process of commodification of the body can be seen in the ‘Before and After’ photographs from the 1930’s. The science of physical fitness has always sold product to go with its ideals and the use of before and after photos echoes those of Dr. Barnardo. Here I am looking at my own weak and puny body and then looking at these photographs and advertisements that are telling me: ‘You can have a bigger, better body in only (substitute x amount of time) days or weeks!’ You can attain the perfect male body. But it will cost you. In time, in money, in sacrifices, perhaps in failure. But you desire that body don’t you, you want that body, you want to belong!

The photographs from the 1930s show examples of bodily improvement over a period of one year, a reasonable amount of time given the improvement shown. As the century progressed however, the claims for products became more outlandish and photography was used to bolster these claims. In the 1952 photographs above for example, the photograph is used to authenticate the models physical improvement in just 35 days! Note, however, that in the second photograph the model is standing closer to the camera than in the first one, he has a tan which makes him look healthier, is oiled up, and his hair is bigger to give him more physical presence. He is also engaging the gaze of the viewer, returning his look, which in itself is a more challenging, defiant act.

Nothing much has changed in advertising claims from the 1950s until today. In the unretouched sequence of photographs (above) from 1998 (for a leading supplier of sports nutritional supplements), we are asked to believe a new, super-fast “Theory of Evolution” exists, all achieved in less than 12 weeks.

I am not suggesting for one minute that these photographs actually lie. But they do restructure the ‘truth’. Firstly, the model does not have an ‘ordinary’ body to start with. You only have to look at the legs and arms in all four photographs to realise that this man is probably a bodybuilder who is out of condition and training. In the first photograph he is stooped, unkempt, unshaven, hairy, flat-footed & slovenly. Much the same as the photographs of children arriving at the Dr. Barnardo’s homes in the 1870s. Funny about that. As the sequence progresses he becomes happier, taller, more ‘pumped’ and ‘cut’ till he positively shines like burnished steel, his muscles glowing as he strides on the balls of his feet into the future. His fists become clenched to emphasise his bulging muscles and his manliness.

Hey, its a ‘lifestyle’ thing. Muscular men look after their bodies, have no moral disorders and are happier and more successful!

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Bill Good executing Stretching Exercise course' c. 1930 and 'Bill Good executing Free Motion exercises' c. 1930

 

(left and right)

Anonymous photographer
Bill Good executing Stretching Exercise course
c. 1930
in Berry, Mark. Physical Improvement. Vol. I. Philadelphia: Milo Publishing Company, 1930, p. 143
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

Anonymous photographer
Bill Good executing Free Motion exercises
c. 1930
in Berry, Mark. Physical Improvement. Vol. I. Philadelphia: Milo Publishing Company, 1930, p. 127
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Power and the Muscular Body

Increasingly, the body was not only able to exercise on its way to muscularity it was also able to exercise the ritual semiotic language of the hyper-masculine body as power over the social body in general. A sociology of the body was constructed based on the interaction with history, memory and context. Men sought to transform their body and the social body through the structures and rituals of power, naming deviants such as homosexuals as ‘other’ and therefore reducing them to an inferior status. It is not surprising that homosexual men are attracted to this power. For a long time they have been subject to persecution & derision, and saw themselves as inferior. Now, with the adoption of hyper-masculine bodies as the epitome of gay male image, gay men seek to be ‘real’ men perhaps even more than straight men. Unfortunately this may reinforce traditional patriarchal stereotypes within the gay community, a community that is supposed to pride itself on equality and diversity. The very things that homosexuals have long fought against, oppression and discrimination, may be confirmed in the exercising of power by the muscular ‘ideal’ within the gay community.

In the conformation of the power of the muscular body I suggest that gay men may have adopted a mask to cover their own insecurities in order to seek acceptance for themselves into the gay and general population. This mask has become more than just a facade for some gay men, it has become their reality. The owner of a body that measures up to the ideal may seek acceptance of him- self in the perfection of his own reflection. What he sees in this reflection is, perhaps, not his ‘true’ self but a mask that is put on, a pre-formed surface that reflects the values of the society from which it emanates, perhaps a surface that is only skin deep inscribed by his social enculturation and assimilation. Once put on this mask is very difficult to take off; how many times do we see the words “straight acting” in newspaper advertisements in the gay press describing what is sexually offered and wanted, as though being str8-acting enables our gay masculinity and makes us ‘real’ men? I believe it is no longer an ironic act for gay men to try and fulfil the straight hyper-masculine ideal, not a ‘camp’ ironic comment as it used to be, but a deadly serious endeavour. This has important repercussions for the psyche of all gay men and I discuss these repercussions later in this chapter and also in the (S)ex-press chapter.

As can be seen from the photographs within this text, there has been a development of the complete ‘look’ of the body over the last century. Beautiful muscles compliment a beautiful ‘lifestyle’6 and an equally beautiful tan. Appearance and the power of that appearance is now of the essence. The appearance of this ideal ‘lifestyle’ is available to everyone of us, regardless of social status or age, how rich or poor we are as gay men – yeah, right!

 

Raymond Vino. 'Steve Downs' 1998

 

Raymond Vino
Steve Downs
1998
in Low, Cheh N. (ed.,). Exercise for Men Only. New York: Chelo Publishing, December 1998, p. 103.

 

Bob Jones (American) 'Short Mens Class', 'Untitled', 'Untitled' 1952

 

(top to bottom)

Bob Jones (American)
Short Mens Class
Untitled
Untitled
1952
in Rader, Peary (ed.,). Iron Man. Vol. 12. Dec-Feb. 1952, No. 4. Alliance, Nebraska: Iron Man Publishing Co., 1952, p. 8
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

 

Now aren’t there some good looking men amongst this lot! I wonder how many of them were gay? Not an effeminate man to be seen here, you can bet your life. These are all ‘real’ he-men: strong, masculine and ruggedly virile examples of manhood. There is still a range of ethnicities present in these 1950s photographs, from Brazilians to Afro-Americans & men of Asian origin but there is not a hairy man amongst them. They probably shaved for the event, a very feminine thing for a man to do! These photographs also serve to illustrate another point: that although body shape might be slightly different when compared to each other, overall the bodies seem to form a homogenised whole, forms which seem to have been pressed from the same mould (‘template man’).

 

 

We observe the billboards with the fashionable ‘lifestyle’ Calvin Klein underwear ads, featuring some truly amazing bodies. We desire these bodies in all their airbrushed glory, ‘simulations’ of an ideal world where bodies are perfect, not all sorts of shapes and sizes as in the real world.

We lust after the perfect idealisation of the muscular body and the projected power that this ‘ideal’ body image and its lifestyle proposes. This perfection is never obtainable, of course, because we can always have bigger muscles, a better tan, more fashionable clothes, etc. … The ‘ideal’ is like a carrot on a stick, always just beyond our reach, like an ever receding dream.

 

Anonymous. 'Untitled [Posing straps]' 1952

 

Anonymous
Untitled [Posing straps]
1952
Athletic Model Guild advertisement, in Rader, Peary (ed.,). Iron Man. Vol. 12. Dec-Feb. 1952, No. 4. Alliance, Nebraska: Iron Man Publishing Co., 1952, p. 50.
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

The Phallic Armoured Body

In much of the imagery of the muscular male the body becomes a substitute for the undisclosed and hidden power of the penis. The body becomes a huge phallus, hard and rigid, strong, erect, and powerful. The muscular body acts as a phallic symbol, surrounding itself with an implied sexual mystique, the physical embodiment of the male phallic power. But the penis can never live up to these expectations.7 After all the penis is just an appendage of limp flesh and looks faintly ridiculous most of the time!

Thus, the muscular body becomes a form of dominance display; hard, bulging muscles embodying the mystical potency and virility implied in its phallic construction. Gay men are attracted to the fantasy of a powerful phallus. They too want to be powerful. In some sections of the gay community (especially the ‘Muscle Marys’ as they are known) the muscular body is seen as the epitome of physical attractiveness. This body type has a powerful image, as much for the supposed power of its hidden penis as anything else. A big body can stand as a metaphor for the power of a big dick, something which some gay men seem obsessed with. Muscular gay men are often derided by other gay men by saying that ‘he must have a big body because he can’t have a big dick’, or if a gay man is obviously on steroids then his balls, ‘will have shrivelled up like walnuts and he will have no sex drive’.

I wonder whether this a truth or are some gay men just jealous?

The body as phallus has also become an armoured body, supposedly able to protect its occupant from the anxieties and stress of modern life. This body
allows the occupant to control his environment through his body, not allowing any transgressive pleasures / messy secretions / intimacy / love to interject into his controlled armoured existence – no a(r)mour, no love. The body surface becomes an impervious barrier, all orifices closed to seepage across its boundaries. Hard, shiny and smooth nothing can penetrate this perfect projectile. This is especially significant with the onset of the HIV/AIDS virus. A big body was and is perhaps still seen as a healthy body, muscles becoming a sign and symbol of health within the gay community.

“Burn off more than you can chew” (below) is a contemporary advertisement that I believe illustrates the linkage between the phallic smooth, white muscular mesomorphic body and product. Advertising helps encourage the body to become a consumer of the product and postulates the body as a perfect product for consumption itself, at one and the same time. The model with the 6-pak looks longingly at the phallic, erect, penis shaped bar (a ‘bar’ in gay slang is a stiff cock), eats the bar to burn fat, to become ‘ripped’, so other men can gaze at and desire the perfection of his body as a product they wish to consume themselves by having sex with him. His body, his (chocolate) bar becomes a metaphor for the mythological power of his bulging (just) hidden penis.

 

Iron Man

1950s bodybuilders

 

(left to right)

Douglas (photographer)
“Vic Seipke of the N.E.YMCA of Detroit. Height 5’9″. 186 pounds, neck 18, chest 48, arm 17, waist 29, thigh 25, calf 16, ankle 9 and a half. Won Mr. Michigan, 3rd in Mr. Mid-America 7th in Mr. America.”
1952
in Rader, Peary (ed.,). Iron Man. Vol. 12. Dec-Feb. 1952, No. 4. Alliance, Nebraska: Iron Man Publishing Co., 1952, p. 23.
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

Anonymous photographer. “Bill Pearl, another pupil of the Stern gym is 21 and at a height of 5’9″ weighs 209, with a 17″ neck, 47″ chest, 32″ waist, 18″ arm, 8″ wrist, 25 and a half thigh and 16″ calf.”
1952,
in Rader, Peary (ed.,). Iron Man. Vol. 12. Dec-Feb. 1952, No. 4. Alliance, Nebraska: Iron Man Publishing Co., 1952, p. 22.
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

Bob Jones (photographer). “Jim Park, Mr. World”
1952, in Rader, Peary (ed.,). Iron Man. Vol. 12. Dec-Feb. 1952, No. 4. Alliance, Nebraska: Iron Man Publishing Co., 1952, p. 7.
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

Fritshe (photographer)
“Mike Barrilli, a pupil of Fritshe, won the Jr. Mr. Atlantic title in 1950. At 20 years of age he is 5’6″ tall and weighs 160 pounds of perfectly proportioned muscle.”
1952
in Rader, Peary (ed.,). Iron Man. Vol. 12. Dec-Feb. 1952, No. 4. Alliance, Nebraska: Iron Man Publishing Co., 1952, p. 21.
Courtesy: Marcus Bunyan

 

Anonymous photographer/designer. "Burn off more than you can chew" c. 1999

 

Anonymous photographer/designer
“Burn off more than you can chew”
c. 1999
Aussie Bodies advertisement in Clifton, Paul and Gennari, Isabelle (eds.,). Midsumma Festival 2000 guide. Melbourne: Midsumma Festival, 1999.

 

Body Builders

 

(left to right)

Carl Hensel
Untitled
Nd
in Dutton, Kenneth. The Perfectible Body. London: Cassell, 1995, p. 193

Anonymous photographer
Bob Paris
Nd
in Dutton, Kenneth. The Perfectible Body. London: Cassell, 1995, p. 248

 

 

Muscle Gods, Hot Jocks, and Gay Desire

 

“It was my dream to get a body … I would see all of those guys with their muscles and I wanted to be one of them … It’s not even like I want to really even hang out with the muscle gods, I mean, after I do get into bed with one, it usually is a letdown. Beyond the sex, which is sometimes really dull, I’m usually saying to myself, why did you obsess over getting this guy? We never have anything in common. They’re usually so involved in their bodies – and it really is an all-consuming project to be a muscle god, and work out, like, all the time – that they don’t have any interests beyond talking about the gym and the scene. But that’s the thing about it. It’s the private club, the world of the muscle gods, and you don’t want to be excluded from it …”

.
Mark, 44 year-old New Yorker quoted in Signorile, Michelangelo. Life Outside. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997, p. 168.

 

In the relationship between gay men and going to the gym to muscle up a sense of belonging to the group is an important factor. Often having been persecuted in early life gay men want to belong to a team, and if belonging to the team that is seen as the most desirable means getting a bigger body then so be it, they will do anything to get that body. Gay men can become muscle gods too!

In the above photograph by Carl Hensel we can see one of these muscle gods, his body pumped up like a hooded cobra about to strike. The importance of his genital area is reduced thanks to the smallness of his posing pouch. In serious bodybuilding reducing the eroticism of the body is important in containing the possibility of homoerotic attraction when men view other men’s bodies. The supposed lack of homoeroticism in bodybuilding is upset when one of the fold, for example Bob Paris (above right), openly declares himself to be gay.

Men do lust after and desire other men’s bodies in any context.

This desire has been commodified in contemporary muscular male imagery. The ‘hot jock’ stereotype has been legitimised as a site of lust and desire. The advertisement below comes from a magazine entitled Exercise for Men Only, a publication aimed primarily at ‘lifestyle’ straight and gay men. These images are not aimed at women. They reveal, as the ad says, “Every shape of their Stunning, Young, Muscular Bodies,” and appeal to men who admire, come along and “feel the heat” of these types of physique. This is soft porn of the entire body a la 1990s style, clothed in the justification of beautiful, artistic cinematography much as the photographers of the 1950s used the devise of association with classical ‘ideals’ to justify the publication of their images. Note how in this advertisement all the bodies conform to the stereotypical ‘ideal’ of the muscular, buff, tanned, white male.

To a great extent this ‘ideal’ has been promulgated and propagated by the imagery used in American gay porn videos since the early 1980s. The imagery of Muscleforce (below) is a good example, linking as it does muscle and power within an eroticism of homosexual lust and desire.

For more detailed information about the development of the imagery of gay pornography in the media please visit the gay male pornography section in the In-Press chapter.

Dr Marcus Bunyan 2001

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Muscle Heatwave' Vista Video advertisement, c. 1998

 

Anonymous photographer
Muscle Heatwave
Vista Video advertisement, c. 1998
in Low, Cheh N. (ed.,). Exercise for Men Only. New York: Chelo Publishing, December 1998, p. 47.

 

Join Eight Muscular Young Fitness Stars in this Steamy Sequel to “Muscles in Paradise”
Exciting Sequences and Remarkable Photography reveal every shape of their Stunning, Young, Muscular Bodies
Come Along… Live the Adventure and Feel the Heat!
(Includes Beautiful Artistic Cinematography of the ENTIRE Male body)

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Muscleforce' c. 1996

 

Anonymous photographer
Muscleforce
c. 1996
Cover of Fox Studios pornography video

 

 

Footnotes

  1. Throughout my PhD and project notes (including the development of interview questions, the analysis of data, and the development of evolving theory), I have used the quotation below as the basis for my definition of the term ‘masculinity’.
    “The category of “masculinity” should be seen as always ambivalent, always complicated, always dependent on the exigencies [meaning: necessary conditions and requirements] of personal and institutional power … [masculinity is] an interplay of emotional and intellectual factors – an interplay that directly implicates women as well as men, and is mediated by other social factors, including race, sexuality, nationality, and class … Far from being just about men, the idea of masculinity engages, inflects, and shapes everyone.”
    Berger, Maurice, Wallis, Brian and Watson, Simon (eds.,). Constructing Masculinity. New York: Routledge, 1995, pp. 3-7. Introduction.
  2. Dyer, Richard. Only Entertainment. London: Routledge, 1992, p. 114, quoted in Stratton, Jon. The Desirable Body. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996, p. 195.
  3. See Gorn, Elliott. The Manly Art. London: Robson Books, 1986.
  4. “Where objective knowing is passive, subjective knowing is active – rather than giving allegiance to a set of methodological rules which are designed to deliver up truth through some kind of automatic process [in this case the image], the subjective knower takes a personal risk in entering into the meaning of the phenomena to be known…
    Those who have some time for the validity of subjective experience but intellectual qualms about any kind of ‘truth’ which is not ‘objective’, are apt to solve their problem by appealing to some kind of relativity. For example, it might be felt that we all have our own versions of the truth about which we must tolerantly agree to differ. While in some ways this kind of approach represents an advance on the brute domination of ‘objective truth’, it in fact undercuts and betrays the reality of the world given to our subjectivity. Subjective truth has to be actively struggled for: we need the courage to differ until we can agree.
    Though the truth is not just a matter of personal perspective, neither is it fixed and certain, objectively ‘out there’ and independent of human knowing. ‘The truth’ changes according to, among other things, developments and alterations in our values and understandings … the ‘non-finality’ of truth is not to be confused with a simple relativity of ‘truths’.”
    Smail, David. Illusion and Reality: The Meaning of Anxiety. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1984, pp. 152-153.
  5. See Tagg, John. The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographies and Histories. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1988, p. 85.
  6. ‘Lifestyle’ was a term conceived by the Viennese psychiatrist Alfred Adler in the 1920s in order to describe the attitudes that inform a person’s experience of life. By the 1960s style, fashion and consumerism had overlaid its original meaning and now a ‘lifestyle’ is perhaps a style of life based on your ability to have, compete and move in valued social circles. It has become a combination of both materialism and psychiatry. Much as ‘homosexuality’ was medically named as a deviancy in the 1870s in order to control that deviancy through treatment and regulation, ‘lifestyle’ has links to the medical profession which names its [lifestyles that is] effects on the identity of the self.
    “Lifestyle refers to a relatively integrated set of practices chosen by an individual in order to give material form to a particular narrative of self-identity. The more tradition loses its ability to provide people with a secure and stable sense of self, the more individuals have to negotiate lifestyle choices, and attach importance to these choices.”
    Schilling, Chris. The Body and Social Theory. London: Sage Publications, 1993, pp. 181-183.
  7. “The penis can never live up to the mystique implied by the phallus. Hence the excessive, even hysterical quality of so much male imagery. The clenched fists, the bulging muscles, the hardened jaws, the proliferation of phallic symbols – they are all straining after what can hardly ever be achieved, the embodiment of the phallic physique.” (My italics).
    Dyer, R. Only Entertainment. London: Routledge, 1992, p. 116, quoted in Stratton, Jon. The Desirable Body. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996, p. 195.

 

 

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21
Feb
21

Photographs: ‘Women’ 1960s British / Australian 35mm colour slides Part 2

February 2021

 

Unknown photographer (British). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

 

This is the second part of my posting on 88 colour slides of nude women that I bought in Daylesford (an hour and a half from Melbourne) at an antique centre. I have spent hours digitally restoring these slides for they were in a poor state. Unfortunately the colour has gone but I felt the slides were so interesting, so beautiful, that they were worth preserving.

Compared to the women in Part 1 of the posting, the women in these photographs are more knowing of their sexuality and the part they are playing in their own representation, the acting for the camera. Even so, there is nothing prudish or smutty about these photographs. Despite the professional? amateur? photographer being almost certainly male (and all the appellations that the male gaze brings with it), the women are joyful when displaying their bodies, unafraid and uninhibited in the posing of their bodies before the camera. Here “the enshrining of Woman as a blank screen upon which the ideas and desires of both artist and viewer are projected” is balanced by the identity, presence and vitality of the women themselves. They take possession of their image, not simply as passive participants in the act of representation, but as active, engaged, powerful human beings who have a vital role in their own portrayal.

This selection features images that have a more British flavour including shots in a traditional back garden of an English house with lawn, crazy paving and roses (reminding me of my mother’s garden). Other photographs are shot in a flat – one in front of curtain, another using flash in a temporary studio made from rolls of paper hung down behind the model. Further photographs are shot in what looks like a rental bedsit using flash – against a door with the edge of the bed appearing at left, or in a small bedside mirror with overhead light, guest instructions for the room appearing at left. One can only surmise the arrangements made for the model and photographer to meet up in such a small, dingy space. Did they know each other beforehand, was money exchanged, did they have sex afterwards or part without ever seeing each other again, and what was going on in each of their lives, that they ended up in this space at this time for these photographs? What brought them to this place, and what happened to their lives afterwards? One can only surmise…

The setting of domestic suburbia is prevalent in many of these intimate images. Women lie on couches with cats; sit on a stool surrounded by chair, curtain and floral carpet; and are photographed as a pair using numerous props including a chair and a table covered with a bedspread, while on the ground a blanket is laid on the carpet for them to sit on. It’s all very amateur and experimental, using whatever surroundings and objects were available. My personal favourite is a magnificent woman, head titled down and away from the camera, strong dark shadow with the profile of a classical bust falling on the bed and wall behind, flattening the space of the image. Three Vincent van Gogh posters are tacked to the wall of the habitat behind: beauty and bed meets beauty and bed, that of van Gogh’s The Bedroom Arles 1888 (see below). I wonder what Vincent would have made of this Venus, how he would have painted her.

At the bottom of the posting you can see examples of naturist magazines, for the posing in these photographs has historical links to the history and photography of naturism (naturism is a lifestyle of non-sexual nudity, and the cultural movement which advocates for and defends that lifestyle). Of particular interest to me are the advertisements for the “Spielplatz” in St Albans, for my mother was a member for many years at this nudist retreat in the heart of Hertfordshire, owning a caravan and enjoying the summer months in England swimming and sunbathing nude. The Spielplatz (meaning playground)  – “the place to be when you have nothing on” – is the UK’s longest-operating naturist resort founded in 1929 by Charles Macaskie and his wife Dorothy, and still going strong. Other magazines, such as the Australian Figure and Vigour (A Controversial Periodical Devoted to Fearless Fact … SEXOLOGY – ART – THEATRE – BEAUTY) and Australasian Post concentrate on the more salacious side of sex and the portrayal of the female body (for the desires of men): ‘ARE WE SLAVES TO SEX?’ screams the headline, and ‘IS OUR SOCIETY SEX-SICK?’ or, ‘SPANKED WOMEN! * YOU’LL BE SHOCKED! Meekly, at the word of a cruel husband or parent, they submit themselves to pain and utter humiliation!’ Meekly – there is the key word (in a quiet, gentle, and submissive manner) – women become subservient to men, submitting themselves to pain and humiliation not just from a husband, but even a parent. This is so wrong on so many levels.

Titles such as “The Triumph of Naturism”, “Health and Efficiency” “Health and Sunshine” emphasise the link between nature, the body and the machine, how a healthy body promotes a healthy mind, all the while lurking in the background are half-remembered links to the discredited science of eugenics (a set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve the genetic quality of a human population, historically by excluding people and groups judged to be inferior or promoting those judged to be superior) and to the 1935 Nazi propaganda film directed, produced, edited, and co-written by Leni Riefenstahl titled Triumph of the Will, which chronicles the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, which was attended by more than 700,000 Nazi supporters. Meanwhile, portrayals of the male body in some of the very same magazines concentrate on the mightiest men of muscledom, bulging pinups and masters of muscle. A youthful Arnold Schwarzenegger (photographed by that wonderful artist Gregor Arax) poses in all his glory for these physical culture magazines, as does a very young Sean Connery – the muscular phallic body of the muscle gods transferring across to the desirability and availability of such a body in gay porn photographs from the 1970s. As they say in ‘Master of muscle’, “It begins with a picture…”

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. View Part 1 of the posting.

 

Addendum November 2021

On 30 October 2021 I received a wonderful email from Miss Ulrike Muehlbachler in Austria. She gave me some valuable information with regard to these colour slides as below:

“All of them should be digitalised at the highest possible resolution as soon as possible. 1960’s colour slides now tend to chemical reactions – which destroys the images more and more through the years (this has been done!)

.
Best regards from old Austria, Europe
Miss Ulrike Muehlbachler – painting artist, music producer & former stock photographer”

 

More valuable information came from Russ who runs The Kamera Club website:

The slides seem to be a mixture of models from different countries including the UK, as I can name a few. Also I’d say that although several of the models posed for Harrison Marks none of the shots are taken by him. They were originally published as sets under ‘Esquire Color Slides’ and were notorious for going red!

They were not taken at Ewhurst Manor [a legendary UK-filming location at 37 Furzehill Road, Borehamwood used for “glamour” photography, now sadly totally demolished], at least those I’ve seen taken in the gardens. I know the grounds of Ewhurst fairly well having studied numerous images of the place over the years. I can safely say there wasn’t a walled round pond there 🙂

I will need to look through the slides again, but I can see Sue Owen, Models named Robyn and Georgina and a few others I recognise.

These slides seem to turn up all over the place, so the distribution must have been pretty good even back in the 1960’s.

Russ”

 

Unknown photographer (British). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (British). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (British). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British)
Nude portrait (1)
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (British). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (British). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (British). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (British). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (British). 'Nude portrait (Annette Johnson)' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British)
Nude portrait (Annette Johnson)
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (British). 'Nude portrait (Annette Johnson and friend)' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British)
Nude portrait (Annette Johnson and friend)
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (British). 'Nude portrait (Annette Johnson and friend)' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British)
Nude portrait (Annette Johnson and friend)
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (British). 'Nude portrait (Annette Johnson and friend)' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British)
Nude portrait (Annette Johnson and friend)
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890) ‘The Bedroom’ Arles, October 1888

 

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
The Bedroom
Arles, October 1888
Oil on canvas
72.4 cm x 91.3 cm
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

 

 

While he was in Arles, Van Gogh made this painting of his bedroom in the Yellow House. He prepared the room himself with simple furniture and with his own work on the wall. The bright colours were meant to express absolute ‘repose’ or ‘sleep’. Research shows that the strongly contrasting colours we see in the work today are the result of discolouration over the years. The walls and doors, for instance, were originally purple rather than blue. The apparently odd angle of the rear wall, meanwhile, is not a mistake on Van Gogh’s part – the corner really was skewed. The rules of perspective seem not to have been accurately applied throughout the painting, but this was a deliberate choice. Vincent told Theo in a letter that he had deliberately ‘flattened’ the interior and left out the shadows so that his picture would resemble a Japanese print. Van Gogh was very pleased with the painting: ‘When I saw my canvases again after my illness, what seemed to me the best was the bedroom.’

Text from the Van Gogh Museum website [Online] Cited 21/02/2021

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Another photograph from the same shoot can be found on The Kamera Club website.

 

Hanimex slide carousel and box

Hanimex slide carousel and box

 

Hanimex slide carousel and box

 

35mm colour slide

 

35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Unknown photographer (Australian?). 'Nude portrait' 1960s?

 

Unknown photographer (British? Australian?)
Nude portrait
1960s?
35mm colour slide

 

Sun Bathing Review Summer 1949

Sun Bathing Review Summer 1949

 

Sun Bathing Review
Summer 1949

 

Eve in the Sun about 1956

 

Rosemary Andrée
My life story
1945

Eve in the Sun
about 1956

 

"Are We Slaves to Sex?" in 'Figure and Vigour' Vol. 1, No. 5 November 1952

 

“Are We Slaves to Sex?”
Figure and Vigour Vol. 1, No. 5
November 1952

 

Sun Bathing Review Autumn 1955

 

Sun Bathing Review
Autumn 1955

 

Australasian Post December 8 1955

 

“Spanked Women!”
Australasian Post
December 8 1955

 

Sunbathing For Health January 1956

 

Sunbathing For Health
January 1956

 

Health And Efficiency February 1956

 

Health And Efficiency
February 1956

 

Health And Efficiency February 1957

Health And Efficiency February 1957

 

Health And Efficiency
February 1957
Adverts for Photographic Art Albums

 

The Naturist Vol. XX, No. 7 June 1957

 

The Naturist Vol. XX, No. 7
June 1957

 

The Naturist Vol. XX, No. 10 September 1957

The Naturist Vol. XX, No. 10 September 1957

 

The Naturist Vol. XX, No. 10
September 1957

 

'Sun Bathing Review' Vol. 16, No. 61 Spring 1958

 

Sun Bathing Review Vol. 16, No. 61
Spring 1958

 

The Naturist Monthly Vol. XXII, No. 3 February 1959

The Naturist Monthly Vol. XXII, No. 3 February 1959

 

The Naturist Monthly Vol. XXII, No. 3
February 1959

 

The Naturist Monthly Vol. XXII, No. 3 February 1959

 

Advert for Nudist Life at Spielplatz by Charles Sennet.
The Naturist Monthly Vol. XXII, No. 3
February 1959

 

 

Spielplatz

  1. playground
  2. playing field

 

Health and Sunshine 1 Jan. 1943

 

Herbert Rittlinger (German, 1909-1978)
“An Island Paradise”
Health and Sunshine
Special Edition XIV
1960s

 

 

Herbert Rittlinger was not only known for his writing. His photographic work is equally popular. He dealt with nude photography in the sense of naturism. He also published several photo textbooks and illustrated books. For years he was also the author of a monthly column on the subject of “nude photography” in the photo magazine. From 1963 until his death he was a member of the DGPh (German Society for Photography). Above all, he dealt with the subject of water sports in photography and writing.

In many of his books, he joined committed to nudism a (nude), even in the more prudish 1950s. Rittlinger wrote as early as 1950 about the then disreputable term “nudity culture”:

“But to apply this beautiful expression to the very simple, very natural and in the appropriate place quite often practiced nudism, or to the honest nudist groups (many of their members are not by chance canoeists!) With their […] free and sporty and clean atmosphere – is impolite and, at best, shows gross ignorance. Only – the obscenity of the philistine is by no means “impolite” anymore, but rather malicious! “Naturism” (FKK) is also not a happy word. But it has asserted and naturalised itself from the distance to all speculative machinations. From the proper sportswear to Petrarcaup to here the jump is not that big: Our shores of the sun also call for ultimate physical freedom. What the gift of nudity in the air and sun means for women in particular, who withdraw three quarters of their bodies from the vital demand “let air on their skin”, even when doing sport, will be best appreciated by them. Fortunately, under the thicket of narrow and conventional convention, most people have enough cleanliness of sensation to enjoy fresh naturalness. In the face of venerable, dreamy Moselle towns, or under the peering amused or even evil glances of the honest rural population, any unintended challenge is strictly forbidden, if only for reasons of [good …] taste. But if you are in a lonely area.” ~ The new school of canoeing. River-sea-whitewater-open-air life. p. 295.

.
Herbert Rittlinger’s text and images in the “Sun Friends” and “HELIOS” magazine described the ideal opportunities to combine canoeing with naturism. So also the special editions written and illustrated by Rittlinger: “Dalmatian Summer”, “We moved to Friuli” and “Sun trip to Provence” from these then leading nudist publishers.

Text translated from the German Wikipedia entry

 

Health and Sunshine Special Edition XIX

 

Hans-Joachim Fritzsch
“Naked in the Sun”
Health and Sunshine
Special Edition XIX
1960s

 

Health and Sunshine 1960s

 

Health and Sunshine
1960s

Health and Efficiency April 1960

Health and Efficiency April 1960

Health and Efficiency April 1960

Health and Efficiency April 1960

Health and Efficiency April 1960

 

Health and Efficiency
April 1960

 

Australasian Post Jan 28 1965

 

Australasian Post
Jan 28 1965

 

Topless Girl Australasian Post Jan 28 1965

Topless Girl Australasian Post Jan 28 1965

 

“Topless Girl Tells”
Australasian Post
Jan 28 1965

 

"I am a nudist" from 'Australasian Post' November 18, 1965

 

“I am a nudist” from Australasian Post
November 18, 1965

 

'New Zealand Naturist Magazine' #39 June 1966 Naturism Nudism Adult Pamphlet

 

New Zealand Naturist Magazine #39
June 1966
Naturism Nudism Adult Pamphlet

 

Australasian Post July 27 1967 Arax

 

Australasian Post
July 27 1967
Photos by Arax (Krikor (Gregor) Djololian – Studio Arax)

 

Australasian Post November 9 1967

 

Australasian Post
November 9 1967

 

Australasian Post November 9 1967

 

Australasian Post
November 9 1967

 

Australasian Post Nov 27 1969

 

Australasian Post
November 27 1969

 

Australasian Post May 29 1969

 

Australasian Post
May 29 1969

 

Sun Seeker Magazine 1 Jan 1970

Sun Seeker 1 Jan 1970

 

Sun & Health Limited (Publisher)
Frank Stephens (Editor)
Sun Seeker No. 190
1 Jan 1970

 

Sun Lovers First Bumper Book Jan 1972

 

Sun Lovers First Bumper Book
Jan 1972

 

 

Health And Efficiency Number 851
March 1972

 

Gay male porn 1970s

Gay male porn 1970s

Gay male porn 1970s

Gay male porn 1970s

Gay male porn 1970s

 

Photographs from GAY magazine
mid-1970s
Barry Lowe papers
© Australian Queer Archives
With permission

 

 

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20
Jan
14

Exhibition: ‘Bob Mizer and Tom of Finland’ at The Museum Of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA)

Exhibition dates: 2nd November 2013 – 26th January 2014
MOCA Pacific Design Center

*PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS ART WORK OF MALE NUDITY AND EROTIC IMAGES OF GAY MALE SEX – IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

 

 

Bob Mizer. 'Physique Pictorial Volume 16 Number 4, February 1968' 1968

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Physique Pictorial Volume 16 Number 4, February 1968
1968
Publication
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

 

What a fantastic pairing in this exhibition and in their relationship in real life. We must remember that Tom of Finland was a ground-breaking artist, one of the very first to picture masculine gay men, “robbing straight homophobic culture of its most virile and masculine archetypes (bikers, hoodlums, lumberjacks, cops, cowboys and sailors) and recasting them – through deft skill and fantastic imagination – as unapologetic, self-aware and boastfully proud enthusiasts of gay sex.”

He would have only just been in his twenties when he started drawing men in the early 1940s, inspired by the soldiers and uniforms he saw around him from the Second World War. With no outward gay culture in Finland, let alone in America until the late 1960s, just imagine being an artist producing this kind of erotic imagery at that time. To go on to be the seminal figure in the creation of gay leather culture… what an impact this artist had on gay and popular culture. Of course, as tastes were liberalised in the era of free love, Stonewall and after, the muscles of his hunks became bigger, the size of their endowments larger and the actions portrayed became more open and transparent (as can be seen from Untitled (From Beach Boy 2 story), 1971, below).

During my PhD research I visited the One Institute/International Gay and Lesbian Archives Collection, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, to investigate the cross-over between physique magazines and early gay pornography magazines of the 1960s to early 1970s. I was interested to see whether the muscular mesomorphic bodies of the physique magazines crossed straight over into the first gay pornography magazines. To my surprise, the answer was that they did not.

After the American Supreme Court ruled on obscenity laws in the late 1960s, the first gay pornography magazines started appearing. The earliest gay porn magazine in the One Institute / IGLA collection, Action Line. No.1. San Francisco: Mark Vaughn Associates. 1969, features mostly smooth but natural bodies, not as built as in physique magazines, with nude young men with full erections lying next too each other touching. There is no sex, no sucking or fucking. Only a year later, in 1970, the story is different. In Album 1501: A Study of Sexual Activity Between Males. Los Angeles: Greyhuff Publishing, 1970 their is sexual intercourse pictured between men in an openly available publication for the first time.

Bodies in this magazine are smooth, young toned men, much as in the early photographs of George Platt Lynes (such as those of Charles ‘Tex’ Smutney, Charles ‘Buddy’ Stanley, and Bradbury Ball). They are also similar to the bodies in the photographs that Lynes submitted to the Zurich published homosexual magazine Der Kries after he found out that he had cancer, during the last years of his life (under the pseudonym Roberto Rolf late 1940s – early 1950s). The participants in Album 1501 perform sex on each other in a lounge room lit by strong lights (shadows on walls). The black and white photographs, well shot, feature in a magazine that is about 5″ wide and 10″ high, well laid out and printed. The magazine is a thin volume and features just the two models in one sex scene of them undressing each other and then having sex. One man wears a Pepsi-Cola T-shirt at first and he also has tattoos one of which says ‘Cheri’. The photographs almost have a private feel to them.

In their introduction the publishers disclaim any agreement with the content of the magazine and are only publishing it for the freedom of everybody to study the material in the privacy of their own homes. In other words male to male sex is a natural phenomenon and the publication is educational. This was a common ploy in early nudist and pornographic publications (along with classical themes) that was used to justify the content – to claim that the material was for private educational purposes only:

.
Introduction.

“Publishers of material dealing frankly with sexual activity have suffered greatly in the past because of society’s anxiety over the existence and propagation of such material. But the real issue is why should such material dealing with sexual activity be any less valid or acceptable than material dealing with other facets of human behaviour? …
This book was produced so that all interested adults may have an opportunity to acquire it for their own private interests in matters relating to sex …
Our publication of this book is not to be construed that we agree with, condone or encourage any of the behaviour depicted herein. However, sexual activity between males is a fact of life and interested adults should not be denied an opportunity to study this, or any other, facet of human behaviour.”

.
The Publishers.

 

It is interesting to note the progression from physique magazines and models in posing pouches in 1966-68 (such as the photographs of Bob Mizer featured in this posting), then to full erection and stories of anal penetration in Action Line in 1969, to full on photographs of gay sex in this magazine in 1970. Bodies are all smooth, quite solid, toned natural physiques, not as ‘built’ as in earlier physique magazines, but still featuring younger smooth men and not older heavier set men. It was not until the development of the clone, leatherman and magazines such a Colt from Colt Studios that Tom of Finland’s muscular mesomorphic leatherman took hold in the popular gay imagination.

Even in the mid 1970’s companies such as Colt Studios, which has built a reputation for photographing hunky, very well built masculine men, used classical themes in their photography of muscular young men. Most of the early Colt magazines have photographs of naked young men that are accompanied by photographs and illustrations based on classical themes. In their early magazines quite a large proportion of the bodies were hirsute or had moustaches as was popular with the ‘clone’ image at the time. Later Colt models of the early 1980’s tend towards the buff, tanned, stereotypical muscular mesomorph in even greater numbers. Sometimes sexual acts are portrayed in Colt magazines but mainly they are not. It is the “look” of the body and the face that the viewers desiring gaze is directed towards – not the sexual act itself.

Photographers such as Bob Mizer from Athletic Model Guild produced more openly homoerotic images. In his work from the 1970’s full erections are not prevalent but semi-erect penises do feature, as do revealing “moon” shots from the rear focusing on the arsehole as a site for male libidinal desires. A less closeted, more open expression of homosexual desire can be seen in the photographs of the male body in the 1970’s.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to The Museum Of Contemporary Art (MOCA) for allowing me to publish the art work in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' 1962

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled
1962
Graphite on paper
12.00″ x 9.50″
ToFF Cat. #62.27, Collection of Volker Morlock
© 1962 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Bob Mizer. 'Physique Pictorial Volume 11 Number 4, May 1962' 1962

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Physique Pictorial Volume 11 Number 4, May 1962
1962
Publication
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Physique Pictorial Volume 7 Number 1, 1957' 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Physique Pictorial Volume 7 Number 1, 1957
1957
Publication
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Physique Pictorial Volume 10 Number 4, April 1961' 1961

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Physique Pictorial Volume 10 Number 4, April 1961
1961
Publication
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (1 of 4 from 'Circus Life' series) 1961

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (1 of 4 from Circus Life series)
1961
Graphite on paper
12.25″ x 9.75″
Bob Mizer/AMG Collection, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #61.11
© 1961 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Bob Mizer. 'Jim Horn, Los Angeles' c. 1966

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Jim Horn, Los Angeles
c. 1966
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Barry Maurer, Hand on Gun], Los Angeles' c. 1961

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Barry Maurer, Hand on Gun], Los Angeles
c. 1961
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Larry Lamb, with Tumbleweed], Los Angeles' c. 1959

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Larry Lamb, with Tumbleweed], Los Angeles
c. 1959
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' 1968

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled
1968
Graphite on paper
12.94″ x 9.38″
ToFF Cat. #68.06, Collection of Volker Morlock
© 1968 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Youthful Innocence' 1969

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Youthful Innocence
1969
The New Biker Stud – Bob Mizer title
Graphite on paper
11.75″ x 8.50″
ToFF Cat. #69.02, Collection of Volker Morlock
© 1969 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (No.1 from 'Cyclist and the Farm Boy' series) 1973

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (No.1 from Cyclist and the Farm Boy series)
1973
Graphite on paper
11″ x 8″
Bob Mizer/AMG Collection, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #73.10
© 1973 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Ray Hornsby, Motorcycle], Los Angeles' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Ray Hornsby, Motorcycle], Los Angeles
c. 1957
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

 

“To my mind, there is no clearer representation of Mizer’s almost manic attempts to condense the joyful, celebratory chaos of his daily photo shoots down to their most selectively stupendous moments than his catalogue boards.” ~ artist and exhibition co-curator Richard Hawkins

 

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), is proud to present Bob Mizer and Tom of the Finland, the first American museum exhibition devoted to the art of Bob Mizer (1922-1992) and Touko Laaksonen, aka “Tom of Finland” (1920-1991), two of the most significant figures of twentieth century erotic art and forefathers of an emergent post-war gay culture. The exhibition features a selection of Tom of Finland’s masterful drawings and collages, alongside Mizer’s rarely seen photo-collage “catalogue boards” and films, as well as a comprehensive collection of his groundbreaking magazine Physique Pictorial, where drawings by Tom were first published in 1957. Organised by MOCA Curator Bennett Simpson and guest co-curator Richard Hawkins, the exhibition is presented with the full collaboration of the Bob Mizer Foundation, El Cerrito, and the Tom of Finland Foundation, Los Angeles.

Tom of Finland is the creator of some of the most iconic and readily recognisable imagery of post-war gay culture. He produced thousands of images beginning in the 1940s, robbing straight homophobic culture of its most virile and masculine archetypes (bikers, hoodlums, lumberjacks, cops, cowboys and sailors) and recasting them – through deft skill and fantastic imagination – as unapologetic, self-aware and boastfully proud enthusiasts of gay sex. His most innovative achievement though, worked out in fastidious renderings of gear, props, settings and power relations inherent therein, was to create the depictions that would eventually become the foundation of an emerging gay leather culture. Tom imagined the leather scene by drawing it; real men were inspired by it … and suited themselves up.

Bob Mizer began photographing as early as 1942 but, unlike many of his contemporaries in the subculture of illicit physique nudes, Mizer took the Hollywood star-system approach and founded the Athletic Model Guild in 1945, a film and photo studio specialising in handsome natural-bodied (as opposed to exclusively musclebound, the norm of the day) boy-next-door talent. In his myriad satirical prison dramas, sci-fi flix, domesticated bachelor scenarios and elegantly captivating studio sessions, Mizer photographed and filmed over 10,000 models at a rough estimate of 60 photos a day, seven days a week for almost 50 years. Mizer always presented a fresh-faced and free, unashamed and gregarious, totally natural and light-hearted approach to male nudity and intimate physical contact between men. For these groundbreaking perspectives in eroticised representation alone, Mizer ranks with Alfred Kinsey at the forefront of the sexual revolution.

Though Laaksonen did not move to Los Angeles until the 1970s, he had long known of Mizer and the photographer’s work through Physique Pictorial, the house publication and sales tool for Athletic Model Guild. It was to this magazine that the artist first sent his drawings and it was Mizer, finding the artworks remarkable and seeking to promote them on the magazine’s cover, but finding the artist’s Finnish name too difficult for his clientele, who is responsible for the now famous “Tom of Finland” pseudonym.

By the time the gay liberation movement swept through the United States in the late 1960s, both Tom of Finland and Bob Mizer were already well-known and widely celebrated as veritable pioneers of gay art. Decades before Stonewall and the raid on the Black Cat these evocative and lusty representations of masculine desire and joyful, eager sex between men proliferated and were disseminated worldwide at a time when the closet was still very much the norm – there was no such thing as a gay community. If these artists were not ahead of their time, they might just have foreseen and even invented a time.

Spanning five decades, the exhibition seeks a wider appreciation for Tom of Finland and Bob Mizer’s work, considering their aesthetic influence on generations of artists, both gay and straight, among them, Kenneth Anger, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, David Hockney, G.B. Jones, Mike Kelley, Robert Mapplethorpe, Henrik Olesen, Jack Pierson, John Waters, and Andy Warhol. The exhibition also acknowledges the profound cultural and social impact both artists have made, especially in providing open, powerful imagery for a community of desires at a time when it was still very much criminal. Presenting the broader historical context and key aspects of their shared interests and working relationship, as well as more in-depth solo rooms dedicated to each artist, the exhibition establishes the art historical importance of the staggering work of these legendary figures.

In addition to approximately 75 finished and preparatory drawings by Tom of Finland spanning 1947-1991, the exhibition includes a selection of Tom’s never before exhibited scrapbook collages, and examples of his serialised graphic novels, including the legendary leatherman Kake, as well as a selection of Mizer’s “catalogue boards,” AMG films, and a complete set of Physique Pictorial magazine. An accompanying publication includes texts by the exhibition co-curators and a selection of images.

Press release from the MOCA website

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Ray Hornsby, with Skull Staff], Los Angeles' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Ray Hornsby, with Skull Staff], Los Angeles
c. 1957
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Ernie Rabb, Pointed Pistol], Los Angeles' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Ernie Rabb, Pointed Pistol], Los Angeles
c. 1957
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (From 'Beach Boy 1' story) 1971

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (From Beach Boy 1 story)
1971
Pen and ink, gouache on paper
8.25″ x 5.75″
COQ International Collection, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #71.24
© 1971 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (From 'Jungle Seafood' story) 1972

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (From Jungle Seafood story)
1972
Pen and ink, gouache on paper
8.63″ x 6.94″
Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #72.41
© 1972 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Larry Lamb, Profile with Chains], Los Angeles' c. 1959

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Larry Lamb, Profile with Chains], Los Angeles
c. 1959
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Dennis Schreffer, Wand Balance], Los Angeles' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Dennis Schreffer, Wand Balance], Los Angeles
c. 1957
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Dennis Schreffer with Portrait], Los Angeles' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Dennis Schreffer with Portrait], Los Angeles
c. 1957
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (From 'Beach Boy 2' story) 1971

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (From Beach Boy 2 story)
1971
Pen and ink, gouache on paper
8.25″ x 5.25″
Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #71.45
© 1971 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (From 'Beach Boy 2' story) 197

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (From Beach Boy 2 story)
1971
Pen and ink, gouache on paper
8.25″ x 5.25″
Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #71.58
© 1971 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Bob Mizer. 'Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, David Elliott. [Double-sided; This side Page 1 of SW series]' c. 1965

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, David Elliott. [Double-sided; This side Page 1 of SW series]
c. 1965
Photographs mounted to matboard and mixed media
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Proposed purchase with funds provided by the Photography Committee
The Bob Mizer Foundation & INVISIBLE-EXPORTS, New York

 

Bob Mizer. 'Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, David Elliott. [Double-sided; This side Page 2 of SW series]' c. 1965

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, David Elliott. [Double-sided; This side Page 2 of SW series]
c. 1965
Photographs mounted to matboard and mixed media
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Proposed purchase with funds provided by the Photography Committee
The Bob Mizer Foundation & INVISIBLE-EXPORTS, New York

 

Bob Mizer. 'Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, Ernie Rabb. [Double-sided; This side Page 57 of XT series]' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, Ernie Rabb. [Double-sided; This side Page 57 of XT series]
c. 1957
Photographs mounted to matboard and mixed media
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Proposed purchase with funds provided by the Photography Committee
The Bob Mizer Foundation & INVISIBLE-EXPORTS, New York

 

Bob Mizer. 'Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, Ernie Rabb. [Double-sided; This side Page 58 of XT series]' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, Ernie Rabb. [Double-sided; This side Page 58 of XT series]
c. 1957
Photographs mounted to matboard and mixed media
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Proposed purchase with funds provided by the Photography Committee
The Bob Mizer Foundation & INVISIBLE-EXPORTS, New York

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (From 'Beach Boy 2' story) 1971

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (From Beach Boy 2 story)
1971
Pen and ink, gouache on paper
8.25″ x 5.25″
Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #71.61
© 1971 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

 

MOCA Pacific Design Center

The design center has permanently closed.

MOCA website

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26
Jun
13

Exhibition: ‘The Naked Man’ at Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest

Exhibition dates: 23rd March – 30th June 2013

 

Many thankx to the Ludwig Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

*PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS ART PHOTOGRAPHS OF MALE NUDITY – IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

 

 

Tibor Gyenis. 'Hommage á Ana Mendieta' 1999

 

Tibor Gyenis (Hungarian, b. 1970)
Hommage á Ana Mendieta
1999
From the series Hommage á Ana Mendieta
Courtesy of the Artist

 

Spencer Tunick. 'Düsseldorf 5 (Museum Kunst Palast)' 2006

 

Spencer Tunick (American, b. 1967)
Düsseldorf 5 (Museum Kunst Palast)
2006
Courtesy Stephane Janssen

 

Károly Halász. 'Body-builder in Renaissance manner' 2000

Károly Halász. 'Body-builder in Renaissance manner' 2000

Károly Halász. 'Body-builder in Renaissance manner' 2000

Károly Halász. 'Body-builder in Renaissance manner' 2000

 

Károly Halász (Hungarian, 1946-2016)
Body-builder in Renaissance manner
2000
Courtesy of the Artist

 

'The Naked Man', exhibition views

'The Naked Man', exhibition views

'The Naked Man', exhibition views

'The Naked Man', exhibition views

 

The Naked Man, exhibition views, Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest, 2013
© Photos: György Darabos

 

 

While the naked female body or nude is an accepted theme in art, the unclothed male body has appeared over the centuries, ever since classical antiquity, solely through depictions of the hero or martyr. Today however, the naked male body, provocatively revealed in contemporary art, is far from a heroic figure. The exhibition The Naked Man examines the ways in which the appearance of the naked male body has changed and been transformed over the last century. The changes in the male image from the end of the nineteenth century till today are traced through eight thematic areas.

The chronological starting point of the exhibition is the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, when not even the traditional values of masculinity were spared by the crisis of identity, as manifested in the work of such artists of fin de siècle Vienna such as Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka. For modern artists, the stripped down, naked male body was a bearer of revelation, self-knowledge and renewal. From this starting point, the exhibition follows the naked man through 20th and 21st century history, presenting challenges to the hegemonic model of male identity through the work of close to 100 artists, from questioning traditional male role models to the search for alternatives, from facing up to weakness and fragility to exploring the desiring gaze, body worship and the erotic pose.

In the depiction of the undressed male body there are also clues as to the changing social role of men, the formation of male identity, which is inseparable from both changes occurring in society and the workings of power. Power defines the gaze, which for centuries has been in the possession of men, while women have been merely the objects of the gaze. This division of roles between men and women in society was held to mirror the eternal or ‘natural’ order. The exhibition reassigns the roles, since the object of the gaze is no longer women, but men. How far this signifies the loss, sacrifice or transfer of possession of the gaze can be considered in depth with the help of thematically organised artworks.

The stripped down male body is defined by particular points of crisis. In that sense, the very spirit of the life reform movement that appeared at the turn of the century was one in which the naked male body was seen as a harmonious part of nature and a symbol of the desire to renew society. The naked man appears completely differently in relation to homosexuality. The homoerotic gaze eroticised the male body and examined it as an object of desire. The influence of feminism can be felt in artistic approaches that involve putting on make-up, the hiding of the sexual organ, as well as its ‘relocation’ or symbolic loss, all ways in which male artists have called attention to the arbitrariness of the designation of gender boundaries. Indefinable sexual identity, which is adaptive to the role of the opposite sex, is a revolutionary affront to the conventional expectations of traditional notions of masculinity and femininity. Heroic, hard masculinity, the healthy, body radiating physical strength, is a particularly important symbol for dictatorships. The disciplined body that conforms to the rules symbolises dominance over bodies. It is opposite to the anti-hero, the defenceless, vulnerable male body, that of the man who deliberately suffers pain in the desire to get back his lost power.

The man who belongs to a sexual or racial minority, along with the chubby or ageing male, is forced out of public space and confined to the private sphere, cut off from the connection of the male body to power. The body symbolises power, which can only truly be possessed if its nakedness is not completely revealed, if the sexual organ remains hidden. One of the last taboos of the cultural sphere of Christianity is the sight of the male sexual organ. After all this, what remains an interesting question is whether the female gaze can be an instrument of power. In addition, how do we view the nude studies that were once an indispensable part of academic artistic training, along with earlier and more recent attempts at depicting naked male models? How do we see the relation between artist and model in the self-portrait, in which the artist uses his own naked body as a terrain for the merciless exploration of the self?

The new masculinity does not view cultural roles as naturally given, but rather revolts against them, smashing taboos and unveiling fetishes. In the region of Central and Eastern Europe the body of the naked man is enriched with further layers of significance. In the art of former socialist countries, the naked male body was seen as an expression of enslavement to the patriarchal system, while gender roles are also worthy of examination in this context. After the collapse of the system, the changed geopolitical order, old and new desires and power relations were inscribed onto the body, shaping the new masculinity.

Press release from the Ludwig Museum website

 

Herbert List. 'Young Arab with foxtail lilies, Hammamet, Tunisia' 1935

 

Herbert List (German, 1903-1975)
Young Arab with foxtail lilies, Hammamet, Tunisia
1935
Münchner Stadtmuseum

 

Jimmy Caruso. 'Arnold Schwarzenegger' 1978

 

Jimmy Caruso (Canadian, 1926-2021)
Arnold Schwarzenegger
1978
Münchner Stadtmuseum

 

McDermott & McGough. 'Tattoo Man in Repose' 1891/1991

 

McDermott & McGough
Tattoo Man in Repose
1891/1991
© McDermott & McGough
Courtesy Galerie Jerome de Noirmont

 

Rudolf Koppitz. 'In the lap of Nature' Self portrait c. 1923

 

Rudolf Koppitz (Austrian, 1884-1936)
In the lap of Nature
Self portrait
c. 1923
Münchener Stadtmuseum / Sammlung Fotografie

 

Richard Avedon. 'Rudolf Nureyev' 1961

 

Richard Avedon (American, 1923-2004)
Rudolf Nureyev
1961
© The Richard Avedon Foundation
Courtesy Stephane Janssen

 

Pierre et Gilles. 'Apolló' 2005

 

Pierre et Gilles
Apolló
2005
Model: Jean-Christophe Blin
© Pierre et Gilles
Courtesy Galerie Jerome de Noirmont

 

Pierre et Gilles. 'The Death of Adonis' 1999

 

Pierre et Gilles
The Death of Adonis
1999
Private collection, Paris

 

David LaChapelle. 'Celebrity Gleam' 2002

 

David LaChapelle (American, b. 1963)
Celebrity Gleam
2002
Courtesy of Galerie Thomas, Munich

 

 

Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art
1095 Budapest Komor Marcell Street 1
Hungary 06 1 555-3444

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday: 10.00 – 18.00
Closed on Mondays

Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art website

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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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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Orphans and small groups’ 1994-96 Part 2

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