Thursday, June 6, 2013
Mid-Century Male Physique Photography
Exhibition June 8 - June 29, 2013
Artist Reception Saturday June 8, 7-10 pm
drkrm is pleased to present the male physique photography of John Palatinus, one of the pioneering physique photographers of the 1950's. Along with Lon of New York, Bruce of Los Angeles, and Bob Mizer of Athletic Model Guild, he helped create a whole new genre of male photography. He was a major influence on Robert Mapplethorpe and may be one of the last living photographers from the 1950's golden era of physique photography. This exhibition will be on view from June 8th through June 29th, 2013 with an Artist reception on Saturday, June 8 from 7-10pm.
John Palatinus is perhaps one of the last living male physique photographers of the 1950s. He was one of a handful of photographers who documented the male body through photography of semi-naked, body-proud weightlifters of the time. His first shoot was done in 1951 in his own living room in Indiana. Palatinus crafted his own photographic style which was recognisable by his use of light and minimal background. The pictures echoed Palatinus' influences, who included Horst P Horst and George Platt Lynes, while documenting a sub-culture of body perfection and hyper-masculinity that emerged in the post-war era.
His photographs were published in numerous bodybuilding magazines of the era, most notably Tomorrow's Man, a pocket-sized publication featuring males with posing straps or other coverings for their privates.
In 1954 Palatinus moved to New York, and set up on West 13th Street in Greenwich Village, taking male physique photographs and distributing them to eager collectors. He continued to be featured in "TM" and did a thriving mail-order business, selling his photographs nationwide. In 1958, Palatinus started shooting and selling full-frontal nude photos through the mail. This proved to be an unfortunate move. His studio was raided by the US Postal Inspectors in cooperation with the New York Police Department and all of his photographs, original negatives, cameras and equipment were confiscated, never to be returned. Palatinus was very effectively put out of business. After a trial, he was convicted not of distribution of so-called pornography, but of conspiracy, a misdemeanor charge, and spent no time in jail. "When I was in court in 1959," Palatinus recalls, "The judge said: 'by today's standards this work is considered pornography, but who knows? In 50 years' time it may be considered art' and that really is true."
Palatinus has lived long enough to see his work become appreciated by new circles. The nineties saw a huge resurgence in the collection of Vintage Male Physique photography, spurred on by a voracious online community. Palatinus now lives in Palm Springs, California and exhibits his work thoughout the world.
Sponsored by the California LGBT Arts Alliance
drkrm is an exhibition space dedicated to the display of popular cultural images, fine art photography, documentary and photo journalism, cutting edge and alternative photographic processes. drkrm is located in the historic Chung King Road of contemporary art galleries in Downtown L.A.'s Chinatown. Regular gallery hours are Wednesday – Saturday 12-6 pm, Sunday 12-4pm and by appointment.
All gallery events are free and open to the public.