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MoCA Embraces Great Gay Photog Bob Mizer


Seminal photographer's storyboards living it up in LA

Fans of art and the male body will be happy to hear that two pieces of once-forbidden photographer Bob Mizer's work have a new home at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

In case you don't know Mizer, he was an Idaho native who moved to California in the early 1940s and set about establishing first the Athletic Model Guild, a photo studio specializing in hypermasculine imagery founded in 1945, and a bit later, after doing jail time for sending a picture of a penis through the male, Physique Pictorial, a magazine devoted to the male body. All of this was verboten at the time, so Mizer's pioneering work was a rebellion against the homophobic climate of the time, and that defiant spirit remains just as strong when viewed today.


Many of the men Mizer shot over his four decade career, including an Austrian named Arnold Schwarzenegger, went on to big things, and so did many of the magazine's readers. Andy Warhol and Robert Mapplethorpe, for example found inspiration in his work, and one of Mizer's models, Joe Dallesandro, went on to become a Warhol superstar.

MoCA says, "Mizer's erotic work focused on the male body and in retrospect served to chronicle the gay community during a time of censorship and heavy legal penalties for the distribution of what were then deemed 'obscene' materials." Thank goodness they're forbidden no more.

To celebrate the news, here are blowups of the pieces now living it up at MoCA: two catalog storyboards featuring models David Elliott and Ernie Raab.





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