Taschen’s forthcoming “Bob Mizer. AMG: 1000 Model Directory” two-volume tome is far more than a collection of over 1000 hunky, near-nude bodybuilders and celebrities. (Though, that’s definitely part of the allure.) Within both volumes, one bears witness to the incredibly important works of photographer Bob Mizer. Back along Muscle Beach in Venice, California, Mizer began snagging imagery of handsome men and soon founded both the Athletic Model Guild (AMG, the platform through which he would make these images available) and Physique Pictorial, quite possibly the first overtly homosexual magazine in the United States. He did this all back in 1945. In ’57, Mizer would compile images of the 1000 men he had photographer and publish a catalog: 1000 Model Directory. Then, 11 years later, he would publish a second. Both were wildly popular (within their niche markets) and highly sought-after, but there was one complaint: the images were rather small. Thanks to editor Dian Hanson, who sifted through over a quarter million images, that’s no longer an issue.
Within the new 1,048 page (combined) Mizer books, Hanson has positioned the best of the best. This is physique photography from its earliest days, but also a demonstration of the array of personalities who were comfortable enough to be photographed. As one would expect, there are famous bodybuilders from the time‚ but also television and film stars. And as Mizer grew in acclaim, his set pieces grew more ornate, from those early snaps to thematic, prop-laden editorials. Each is a testament to the laws of the time, with the early images reflecting exactly how nude men could be in print in 1945 to more exploratory captures, pushing the limits of both sexuality and the male figure. It’s no surprise that Mizer used ancient Greek and Roman props. There’s a lot of the classical definition of masculine beauty here. But a thorough look through reveals a little bit of something for just about everyone.
“Bob Mizer. AMG: 1000 Model Directory” is available for pre-order now via Taschen. It retails for $100 and shipment is planned for September 2016. The set also includes an hour-long DVD, featuring 18 of Mizer’s films shot between 1954 and 1968.
Images of book by Cool Hunting