It was not easy to find photographers who have done studies of bodybuilding or even name any well know bodybuilders so I began by looking for images of Arnold Schwarzenegger who I remembered was famous in the late 1970s and 1980s. I was surprised to see that Elliot Erwitt had done a few photographs of him in 1976 and 1977, one of which was a pose of him doing the classic Mr Universe at a performance:
USA. New York City. February 25, 1976. Arnold SCHWARZENEGGER during the performance series, “Articulate Muscle: The Male Body in Art” at the Whitney Museum.
This image is of Schwarzenegger in the spotlight surrounded by the shadowed audience, and he is flexing muscles but his face cannot be seen. It is more a performance than a competition but was interesting to see how Erwitt had captured him while posing. Erwitt also shot Schwarzenegger in more relaxed poses in the same series.
Another Magnum photographer who did a series on Schwarzenegger is Thomas Hoepker. He did a series on Schwarzenegger in 1977 when the film “Pumping Iron” was released. There were images of Schwarzenegger in the gym while others looked on as well as at the beach in a more relaxed situation. The black and white images of him flexing his biceps have a kind of beauty to it when seen framed by a simple black background.
USA. Los Angeles. 1977. Arnold SCHWARZENEGGER flexing his biceps.
I like to think that this is something that I had in mind when I was trying out the merges of Kelley with various vegetables. There is a simplicity that makes the pose and person interesting.
Searches for ‘female bodybuilders’ brought up the extreme end of the sport with hypermuscular women that, to me, had gone beyond a natural point. I read a couple of articles that dealt with the challenge to the perceptions of female bodybuilders and how there is a point at which it severely challenges the general view of femininity as it also challenges the patriarchal view and what is ‘male’. Muscles are synonymous with strength and while some strength is to be encouraged, once the female body is very muscled
“Emerging in popular culture media is a new fit body ideal that have suggested as a possible shift in the conception of femininity and attractiveness (George 323). The current ideal physique for women celebrates muscle in moderation but embodying too much muscle is still heavily “contested ideological terrain” (Messner 198). Rather than celebrating the gains that female bodybuilders have achieved in the male-dominated arena of sports, women continue to apologize through displaying emphasized and often hypersexualized femininity. “
From: Marginalized Muscle: Transgression and the Female Bodybuilder (Article) Victoria Felkar. Felkar writes as a hypermuscular bodybuilder.