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Bruce of Los Angeles
November 6 - December 20, 2008

For the final show at it’s DUMBO location, Wessel + O’Connor has returned to an artist who perfectly exemplifys the gallerys long-term commitment to the male figure, Bruce of Los Angeles. Born Bruce Bellas in 1909, he was a chemistry professor from Nebraska who would wind up in Los Angeles as the top "Beefcake" photographer of the 1950's.

He started out there in the 1940's, shooting bodybuilding contests and met many of his models while working for Joe Weider's muscle magazine empire, which chronicled the physical culture movement sweeping across America following WWII. Bellas photographed some of the most important figures of this era; bodybuilders Steve Reeves, Ed Fury, and George Eiferman, as well as models such as Joe Dallesandro, Mark Nixon, and Brian Idol.

By the 1960s had succeeded in publishing his own magazine, The Male Figure, which allowed clients to order prints of their favorite models. His love of travel would coincide with his delivery nationwide of the then outlawed frontal nudes so ubiquitous today. As writer and publisher Robert Mainardi put it, his purist esthetic "would one day be recognized for its classic elegance, Hollywood glamour, and camp wit, as well as for its restrained sensuality." His influence on many future generations of photographers such as Herb Ritts and Bruce Weber cannot be denied. He died in 1974, leaving behind one of the most com- prehensive photo archives of the time. Our exhibit will feature vintage black and white images produced by Bruce Bellas himself.



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