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Lot 0067
Designer/Artist; Manufacturer: Bruce Bellas (1909-1974), aka Bruce of Los Angeles
Markings:
Marking(s). Some lots in this auction have various handwritten notations on the photos/packaging. Those with apparent significance have been noted and/or photographed.
Country of Origin & Materials:
American; gelatin silver print on resin-coated paper, gelatin emulsified plastic (negative)
Additional Information:
Lot is comprised of four gelatin silver prints with two corresponding 2.25" x 2.25" negatives and contact prints in their original sleeves along with two additional 2.25" x 2.25" negatives in their original sleeves of model and actor Joe Dallesandro from the archives of Bruce Bellas. Joe Dallesandro is best known as one of Andy Warhol's muses, and starred in several of his films including "Flesh" (1968), "Trash" (1970) and "Heat" (1972). His film and television career continued on through the 1980s. He was honored with a Teddy Award in 2009 for his contributions to the LGBTQ community.
Dimensions(H,W,D): photos: 10"h, 8"w each; negatives: 2.25" x 2.25"
Condition:
Specific to this lot, we noted very slight crimping to some corners. Photos from the archives of Bruce Bellas were held in storage for years with minimal handling, and overall condition reflects that. We would consider them all to be in very good to good condition. Condition issues we noted, primarily among prints on fiber-based paper, were minor edge wear and corner bends, and some with some undulation to the paper. Please refer to the detail photos in the listing, and do not hesitate to inquire with any questions you may have pertaining to a specific lot or items within a lot.

In New York back in the 80s, I would go to a little shop, a loft in the East Village called Physique Memorabilia. It was discreet; you had to be buzzed in. They had so many photographs by all the many different ‘Guild' photographers, but I quickly recognized that Bruce's work was of the highest quality, technically as well as compositionally. I tried to collect as many images as I could that I thought were worthy of framing! He could have had a career as a legitimate" photographer had he not chosen the nude male physique as his subject matter - an illegal practice in his time. His photographs were the most inventive, often playful and at other times classical (the images I was personally most drawn to). I would visit the loft and buy as many photographs as I could afford at the time. This was around the time I met Jimmy D, who held around half to three fourths of the Bruce Bellas estate. He left me the collection after his death from AIDS at a very young age." ~ Dimitri Levas, on his introduction to Bruce of Los Angeles and acquisition of the Archive photos offered in this auction

Dimitri Levas is best known for his work as Art Director and stylist for Robert Mapplethorpe, and as Set Designer for Bruce Weber. He co-authored the 2016 book "Flora: Les fleurs de Mapplethorpe" and is a noted collector of 20th century glass and design.

Urban Culture Auctions in association with Palm Beach Modern Auctions is pleased to represent a historically significant collection of photographs and ephemera from the archives of Bruce of Los Angeles.

This compilation includes over 200 lots of original vintage photographs and negatives. Ten+ lots feature Joe Dallesandro (Joe Davis), American actor and Andy Warhol superstar. Dallesandro is generally considered to be the most famous male sex symbol of American underground films of the 20th century, as well as a sex symbol of gay subculture.

In "Bruce of Los Angeles," Jim Dolinsky describes Bruce Bellas as a pioneer of modern nude photography: a master artist and technician dedicated to depicting the male figure. Historically, his body of work is a chronicle of the men of his generation, and his images inform us of the way they looked, dressed and lived in that era. Jim Dolinsky was the executor of the Bruce Bellas Estate, himself a noteworthy writer, photographer, dealer and collector of physique photography.

Kensington Road: physique magazines in LGBTQ history

For many young men of the 1950s, physique magazines were an introduction and portal to the gay community. They represented a sexual awakening and self-identification and fostered a community of men attracted to men. F. Valentine Hooven, author of "Beefcake: The Muscle Magazines of America 1950-1970," wrote "those little physique magazines were not just an aspect of gay culture; they virtually were gay culture." He further went on to explain that for many gay men, "it was their first awareness that they were not alone, the first contact with others of their own kind."

Censorship laws of the time also placed physique magazines front and center in the gay rights movement, inspiring the readers who found such meaning in the magazines to activism in the ongoing fight for open expression. Personally, as well as politically, they exemplified what it was to be gay at this time in U.S. history.

Bruce Bellas - better known as Bruce of Los Angeles - was a key figure in this community. He had been taking candid photos of men for some time in his home state of Nebraska when, like other photographers of this genre, legal trouble propelled his permanent move to the West Coast. Bellas rose to prominence in the 1940s as a photographer in California's bodybuilding scene. He relocated permanently to California in 1947, opened a studio the following year, and in 1956 launched beefcake magazine "The Male Figure."

Bruce of Los Angeles was noteworthy in the art world as well as the gay rights movement, and influenced such photographers as Herb Ritts, Bruce Weber, and Robert Mapplethorpe. Several books document his life and work including Kevin Bentley's "The Naked Heartland- the Itinerant Photography of Bruce of Los Angeles," Vince Aletti's "Bruce of Los Angeles: Inside/Outside," and Janssen's "Bruce of Los Angeles: American Photography of the Male Nude 1940-1970."

Following Bellas' death in 1974, photographer Kurt Deitrick continued distributing his work under the name Kensington Road. Many of the lots in this auction include or reference one of the Kensington Road catalogues, from which buyers could order prints of their favorite models by series number.

{sources: Bentley, Kevin. "The Naked Heartland- the Itinerant Photography of Bruce of Los Angeles." Janssen Verlag, 2000. Simon's Town, South Africa; Dolinsky, Jim. "Bruce of Los Angeles." Bruno Gmunder, 1990. Berlin, Germany; ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California via OAC Online Archive of California; Sam Shahid, New York, New York; wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Dallesandro}

General notations:

Shipping: We will be pleased to offer in-house shipping within the Continental US on pieces purchased in this auction. Up to three flat lots $25; for purchases of greater than three drawings, please inquire. Lots including three-dimensional objects with weight (such as props, packs of cards, and equipment) not included; please inquire for assistance.

Negatives: Lots presented with 2.25" and 4"x5" negatives give the buyer the ability to enlarge prints to a greater scale than the traditional 35mm negatives.

Copyright: The consignor, as owner of the collection, makes no claim to copyright of the images nor are they aware of any copyright claims. Although the consignor and Palm Beach Modern Auctions is not aware of any copyrights on the lots, the potential purchaser/successful bidder of a lot(s) should perform their own due diligence with respect to copyright. Please note the following exceptions which are from the Estate rather than the Archive: lots 4-8, 39, 58, 59, 137, 141

Relevant terms: Bob Mizer, lgbt, bodybuilding, weightlifting, muscle beach, Tom of Finland, photographs, black and white, IFBB, NABBA, Olympia, athletic, pride, Stonewall

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4 Joe Dallesandro Photos & Negatives, Bruce Bellas

Estimate $1,000 - $2,000Sep 26
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West Palm Beach, FL, USA
2,578 Followers
Auction Curated By:
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Rico Baca
Auctioneer & Partner