Yves Le Cadou, John Barrington, c1960
Resource TypeStill Images
Date of Creationc1960
Administrative/Biographical HistoryJohn Barrington, an artist and photographer who studied at St Martin's School of Art in London as well as L'Ecoles des Beaux Arts in Paris, is perhaps the most seminal British photographers of the male nude. Beginning in 1948 and continuing almost to the 1990s, Barrington almost single-handedly created the British market in male physique photography. Much like Bob Mizer and his Athletic Model Guild in the U.S.A., Barrington created and sold thousands of photographs in art, physique, and gay magazines in the United Kingdom. Like Mizer, too, he was prosecuted numerous times for his art.
Barrington's philosophy is that the model takes precedence over the camera, the photographer or the dark-room technique. Barrington primarily focused on athletic models -- men who range from the trim-but-toned look to men verging on the bodybuilder type. His black and white photographs are somewhat static in their presentation, however; almost invariably, the men face forward and are shot from knee to head. Barrington also used exclusively heterosexual models, to reduce the erotic response of both the model and the viewer.
Yet, Barrington's work is not simply of historical importance. Yes, many of these photographs typify the times -- emotionally as well as legally -- in which Barrington worked. But Barrington eschews the "living statue" philosophy. His models are often smiling and relaxed. They aren't unapproachable gods, they are real men whose distance (because of sexual orientation, body type, and beauty) is palpable but not off-putting. The setting of these photographs -- taken in the studio, in homes and in the out of doors -- also helps maintain a fresh, friendly sense in the images.
Extent & Medium1 photograph : gelatin silver print ; 5 x 7 in
Scope & ContentItem is a mid 20th century physique photograph created by John Barrington for sale in his publishing business.
Archival HistoryPhoto originally acquired by John Lillis through an unknown third party. Donation to Bob Mizer Foundation occurred in 2018.