Bruce of Los Angeles at 5. Gallery

Bruce of Los Angeles, Untitled (Steve Reeves) (undated), photograph

5. Gallery, 2351 Fox Road, No. 700, 505-257-8417, 5pointgallery.com

Bruce Bellas, who went by the pseudonym Bruce of Los Angeles, was a groundbreaking figure in photography of the male physique. The fashion photography of Bruce Weber and Herb Ritts, as well as Robert Mapplethorpe’s controversial photography of the gay BDSM subculture of New York City, can be traced to his influence. Bellas, a former chemistry instructor, began his career in photography shooting male bodybuilders in Los Angeles in the late 1940s. In 1956, he founded the magazine The Male Figure. He became known as a pioneer of beefcake photography at a time when depictions of the male nude and homosexuality were illegal. His work was, consequently, rarely displayed publicly until social mores began to change. The gallery is showing a selection of his work in the exhibit Bruce Los Angeles, which opens with a 5 p.m. reception on Friday, Jan. 24, and is up through Feb. 29.

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