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.

by Lula Ososki
26 July 2016, 11:50pm

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

bob mizer
physique photography