Collection is open to the public.
Glass plate negatives are not available for viewing.
Commercially produced anatomical studies of nude models became a standard cosmopolitan product in the late 19th Century. They were initially used for poor students of the arts who could not afford a live model. The bodybuilding male model in physique photography was popularized by the famous weightlifter, Eugen Sandow, during this time. In this context, muscle mass was a reflection of the Greek ideal, meticulously proportioned. Images were often of erotic form; depicting the male model scantily clad or nude as Hercules or powdered white imitating a Greek statue. Artistic study thus transformed physique photography into an industry often sold as pocket-sized postcards.
The line was sometimes thin between the bodybuilder model and homoerotic photography. This artistic movement was often geared towards the closeted gay male audience, which was challenged in the 20th century. Censorship increased, and the scene moved underground in response to the penalization of homosexuality. Bodybuilding thus divorced itself as a subversive act and grew as an homage to the perfection of the male form, becoming a legitimate sport in 1939 by the York Barbell Company "Best Built Man" contest.
The collection consists of one group photo and series of 12 bodybuilding poses. Bodybuilders are primarily nude, or wearing a bikini, jockstrap, or hooded cape. Photographs primarily taken in a studio setting.
Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation, or publication. Contact Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries for details.
The required credit line for use of images from Special Collections is: University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, [plus the negative number].
The negative number is provided with the image and is a letter + number combination such as UW13452; Hegg 1234; or NA1275. A typical credit line would be, University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, UW13452.
The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.
|1||Group of men
gathered around strongman
Possibly Arthur Dandurand, French-Canadian strongman. He lifted cannons, among other things.
|2||Shirtless bodybuilder with arms crossed||circa 1930s|
|3||Nude bodybuilder holding a bar across his thighs||circa 1930s|
|4||View from side of shirtless bodybuilder flexing biceps||circa 1930s|
|5||Bodybuilder in bikini posed as stepping through large picture frame||circa 1930s|
flexing biceps seen from behind
Similar pose as that of image #4.
|7||Bodybuilder flexing muscles with arms forward||circa 1930s|
|8||View from behind of bodybuilder flexing right bicep||circa 1930s|
|9||Shirtless bodybuilder lifting bar behind head||circa 1930s|
|10||Full-length view of bodybuilder flexing biceps||circa 1930s|
|11-12||Nude bodybuilder in reclining pose||circa 1930s|
|13||Bodybuilder in hooded cape with cloth tied around waist||circa 1930s|