About this project
We did it, Mizer fans! We’ve reached our Kickstarter goal of $10,000 with which to buy materials to help preserve visionary photographer Bob Mizer’s work. Your response to our campaign has been swift, enthusiastic and very generous. But we can always use more. With only two weeks remaining in the campaign, which closes Sept. 9, we’re asking you to dig in those pockets a bit deeper – and believe us, we’ll make it worth your while.
Now is your chance to own a piece of history directly from the Mizer estate itself. If our donations reach $15,000 in the next two weeks, everyone – yes, everyone – who donated to our original campaign will receive an original copy of the “1,000 Models” directory – an exhaustive, delectable visual showcase of the men who graced the pages of “Physique Pictorial.”
But wait – there’s another possible reward!
If we top $20,000 in the next two weeks, all who donated to our preservation efforts will receive a copy of the “1,000 Models” directory AND an original 1964 Physique Movie Calendar direct from Bob Mizer's estate, featuring some of AMG’s most popular studs.
Together, that’s a $70 value!
We’re asking for your generous help once more, Mizer fans. Donate now to help preserve Mizer’s legacy, support the foundation’s important work – and reward yourself in the process. Spread the word to other generous would-be supporters who might be interested, too, and don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@MizerFoundation).
Bob Mizer was one of the most prolific photographers of our time, and his work was nearly lost forever. Rescued from hot attics and damp storage lockers, this collection is an enormous visual treasure trove of both Americana and vintage masculinity.
My name is Dennis Bell, and I'm a professional photographer. Early in my life I found myself drawn to vintage physique photography and Americana. I started out as an avid collector and trader and ended up in possession of one of the largest photographic estates in existence.
In my lifetime, I hope to catalog and archive every single image and eventually make the entire collection available for viewing by the general public. Our hard-working team at the Bob Mizer Foundation is well underway on this task.
In 2012 we launched a successful Kickstarter fundraiser to raise funds to archive a large catalog of Mizer's 4 x 5" black and white transparencies, and in 2014 we launched a second successful campaign that produced 10 DVD collections of Mizer's film work. And now we turn to Mizer's 35mm work.
BOB MIZER'S LEGACY
Under the company name "Athletic Model Guild" Bob Mizer published 83 issues of "Physique Pictorial," the first and most successful physique magazine in history. His mid-20th century photography helped shaped the modern aesthetic as well as civil rights laws that we take for granted today. You may not know who he is, but there's no question that his work has touched your daily life. Thank Bob Mizer and his fifty-year career the next time you see a shirtless male model on an Abercrombie & Fitch shopping bag.
Artists like David Hockney used his images as models for their own work. Among his models were film stars Ed Fury and Glenn Corbett, who started their careers in Mizer's studio; Andy Warhol protégé Joe Dallesandro; and action movie star and former governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Mizer's classic images of muscled young men are reflected in today's advertising campaigns, but in the 1940s these types of photographs sent him to prison.
Studies of Mizer's work have appeared in numerous scholarly journals and books. Spanning a half-century of American history, his images capture the zeitgeist of each and every decade in which he worked.
Images of young hoodlums in leather jackets sneered while Marlon Brando and James Dean brawled on the big screen. Greek statues and Roman gladiators mimicked the ancient world as Charlton Heston reigned on the screen in Ben-Hur. His work was kitschy and delicious, and it was almost entirely destroyed.
When Bob died at age 70, after shooting photographs nearly every day since the age of 22, he left no responsible guardian and no plan for his material. It fell into the hands of an opportunist who nearly sold the collection piecemeal after neglecting it for years.
THE BOB MIZER FOUNDATION
In 2003 I rescued Mizer's collection from certain destruction with the intent to turn it into an educational archive. I also founded The Bob Mizer Foundation [a 501(c)3 non-profit], which became the official custodian of Mizer's work. The archive contains hundreds of thousands of 35mm color transparencies and negatives, hundreds of thousands of 4x5 black and white negatives, thousands of stereoscopic slides and prints, and 3000 finished films.
Mizer never expected that his work would last longer than he did. He wasn't thinking of its long term survival or lasting interest. One of the Foundation's missions is to move Bob's images from his temporary storage to permanent archival storage, and in the process scan and document every slide, print and artifact for future access and enjoyment.
My life's work is preserving and exhibiting Bob Mizer's work, along with comparable work by other photographers of the same era who were influenced by Mizer's publications. Building and maintaining the archive has been my full time job for the last twelve years. I hope to reach my goal of cataloging and preserving the entire collection within my lifetime, but I can't do it without your financial support.
WHERE DOES YOUR MONEY GO?
Currently, we at the Foundation are focused on saving and preserving Mizer's enormous collection of 35mm film work. Stored in moldering cardboard boxes for decades, each transparency is sorted so that it appears in the same order in which it was shot. Each roll is then archived in acid-free polypropylene plastic sleeves and digitally cataloged so that it can be found easily at a later date. Every image will exist in both digital and physical form: the digital version serves as the "card catalog" that documents where the physical image resides within the collection.
The Foundation estimates that it will eventually need $250,000 worth of archival sleeves for Mizer's negatives and transparencies. This includes at least $75,000 designated for 35mm transparencies alone. When bought in bulk, our price is much cheaper and we can get more pages.
Clearly we'll be fundraising for a while longer.
Money raised by the Foundation pays only for supplies such as archival sleeves for negatives and transparencies. Volunteers and interns provide the necessary labor.
Eventually the entire Mizer Collection will be available for viewing through the Foundation's website in an online visual database that is already in development.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
If you are a fan of vintage physique photography or classic Americana, please give what you can to help me preserve this precious historical treasure. Since the Bob Mizer Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit, your donation is tax-deductible.
If you can't donate, please help us spread the word. The survival of this archive depends on the generosity of those who may appreciate Mizer's work but don't yet know of its existence.
FIND OUT MORE
For more information about Bob Mizer, please see the Foundation's website.
THE BOB MIZER FOUNDATION IN THE NEWS
LA Museum of Contemporary Art
Bob Mizer & Tom of Finland
New York University
Beyond Beefcake—The Unseen Photos of Bob Mizer
Los Angeles Times
Fun to be had in works of Bob Mizer and Tom of Finland (review)
“Devotion: Excavating Bob Mizer” at 80WSE Gallery, New York
Risks and challenges
Nothing about this project has been easy, but every step has been fascinating and rewarding. Acquiring the collection was relatively easy compared to learning what to do with it. Library and information science is a hugely complicated field, and I spent several years simply learning the basics before tackling the complex task of organizing the two million images and artifacts in the collection.
I know how the archive will function, how to catalog and store the images, and how I will eventually present them to the public. Labor isn't a problem: my incredibly dedicated volunteers spend hours every week sorting through boxes and envelopes documenting and photographing artifacts before transferring them from their worn and tattered wax paper sleeves into pristine, acid-free polypropylene sleeves. Our immediate need, for now and for the foreseeable future, is for the supplies that will house the collection.
The archive is in a state of arrested decay: it's not actively decomposing the way it would in a hot attic (it's currently stored in a cool, dark, dry place) but without permanent measures this is a temporary state at best. I want to leave the collection in much better shape than Bob did. He never intended for it to last longer than he did, but I want it to last in its current form for at least another hundred years before anyone else has to go through this process again.
I have no idea how long it will take to archive everything. My goal is to finish within ten years, but this is entirely dependent on funding. Archival materials and storage are not free. My volunteers are extremely dedicated, but without supplies their labor goes to waste. No matter how long it takes, though, I'm in this for the long haul. This Kickstarter Project, and the two that have gone before, are only the beginning—and yet these projects alone have seen us make tremendous progress. With a lot of generosity, a little luck and a lot of hard work, I think I can finish this project within my lifetime.
The archive is my full time job, my career, and a project I expect I'll be working on, in one way or another, for the rest of my life. With your help it will all be worthwhile, both for myself and for those existing and future admirers of Bob Mizer's work.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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