Studio photographs of a single male model, by renowned physique photographer Lon of New York.
Very good plus.
Personal Photo Album
"You're there because you're an object of beauty. And you're supposed to think, I must be beautiful or I wouldn't be standing here."
Album of color photographs from three separate photo sessions with the same male model, taken in May-June of 1962. The subject – the "most handsome, gorgeous, magnificent V.B." of the handwritten title page dedication – appears in various attitudes and poses, nude or semi-nude in the style of the era's men's physique magazines, standing or reclining in elegant armchairs or against stately Greek columns.
Hanagan, known professionally as Lon of New York, differed from many of his contemporaries in his focus on photographing men of color, particularly African American and Latino models, often from working-class backgrounds. While his early work in the '30s and '40s was for bodybuilding magazines, in later decades he selected models with a disarmingly average build, and photographed them with all the visual idealization typically reserved for men fitting the chiseled magazine ideal. In a late interview just before his death, the otherwise complimentary Village Voice offered a disdainful disclaimer before its praise: "Even if some of these lugs look out of their element perched on a fluted column in a posing strap," wrote Vince Aletti, before acknowledging that "Lon's best photos have the warmth of portraits and and a feeling for the soul". But Hanagan was aware, if the Village Voice was not, that no one is more or less 'in his element' when posing on a fluted column: that the 20th century visual language of erotic symbolism is a constructed one, an artificial world gesturing at an imagined classical past, and thus as open and inclusive and free of bias and snobbery as a given photographer allows it to be. Hanagan remembered: "I'd say, 'Now Sal, or Raul, or whoever, you're up there for one reason. You're there because you're an object of beauty. And you're supposed to think, I must be beautiful or I wouldn't be standing here."
Read more: Chapman, "Alonzo James "Lon" Hanagan 1911-1999"; Aletti, "Physique Pictorial," The Village Voice.
[New York]: n.p, 1962. Photo album. Brown leatherette boards with metal comb binding. Approximately 215 color photographs, most 5'' x 2'', mounted to plastic sleeves recto and verso. Pen inscription to first page: "The most handsome, gorgeous, magnificent V.B. / - 1962 - / May 27 / June 5 / June 20". Front cover of album detached. Interior photographs fine.
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