Photographer Bob Mizer founded one of the first male-focused publications in the 1940s, Physique Pictorial.
Born on March 27, 1922, in Hailey, Idaho, photographer Bob Mizer is best known for photographing bodybuilders and examining American masculinity through photography. In 1945, he founded his studio in Pico-Union, known as the Athletic Model Guild (AMG).
Bob Mizer and Physique Pictorial
Mizer began publishing Physique Pictorial from his studio, one of the first publications to distribute erotic photographs of muscular men. Mizer marketed Physique Pictorial as a fitness magazine to achieve widespread distribution. Still, Mizer secretly targeted its content to an underground audience of queer men.
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Unique for the time, Mizer dabbled in color photography and self-produced original color photographs. Mizer’s Physique Pictorial offered more than a source of entertainment for consumers. The photo journal helped raise awareness in the queer community regarding the emergence of a queer liberation movement.
At the time, many considered Mizer’s photographs graphic and garnered law enforcement attention. In 1947, Mizer was arrested for photographing a seventeen-year-old model and was sentenced to six months in prison.
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Today, Mizer’s work continues to represent the queer liberation movement. Many of his photographs are on display in the Museum of Contemporary Art, located in Los Angeles, and the Museum of Modern Art, located in New York. The Bob Mizer Foundation continues to preserve his legacy by diligently sharing his photographs, camera equipment, camera sets, and props with people now and generations in the future.
Today we celebrate the photographer’s life and work with 45 of our favorite photos from the Bob Mizer collection.