this photographer documented thousands of male nudes

New book AMG: 1000 Model Directory showcases Bob Mizer’s images of body building hunks that inspired David Hockney and Robert Mapplethorpe.

Lula Ososki

From the young men on Muscle Beach in Venice, California to elaborate Hollywood-like sets he shot in his Los Angeles studio, Bob Mizer was the pioneer of "physique photography", documenting almost a million hunks in his lifetime. Celebrated for creating America's first gay magazine, Physique Pictorial in 1951, Mizers images had a racy and seductive undertone, glorifying the wonders of the male body, muscles and all. In 1945 he formed the Athletic Model Guild which challenged the post-war laws that allowed women, but not men to be undressed in photographs and opening the doors to a sexy new world of photography. In his LA studio, he would experiment with theatrical scenes and elaborate props such as Roman headdresses, Greek columns and even his mother's glassware creating a portfolio of imagery that is not to be missed.

Pulling together just a small fraction of images from his vast collection of works, in the 50s Mizer published a catalogue titled 1000 Model Directory, followed by a second in 1968. Although the images were small, often 12 to a page these books became provocative collectables. With a new two-volume edition of 1000 Model Directory, TASCHEN celebrateMizer's game-changing work with images blown up from his original 4x 5 negatives to give the AMG hunks the detail and crispness they deserve.


Text Lula Ososki