Brooklyn Boys 5: The Photography

1640-13This is the last in a series of excerpts from the biographical introduction to Brooklyn Boys, the new monograph on Danny Fitzgerald and Les Demi Dieux.

With the recent resurgence of interest in the works of Fitzgerald’s contemporaries like Mel Roberts, Bruce Bellas, and Walter Kundzicz of Champion Studio, male nude photography from the early 1960s is being reevaluated for its history, technique, and artistic value. Where the available images by Roberts, Bellas, and Kundzicz seldom transcend the limitations of the early ’60s soft-core and “beefcake” magazines that published them, Fitzgerald’s body of work includes cityscapes, landscapes, and portraiture, giving his nudes a larger context and inviting a wider aesthetic dialogue. Read More

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Brooklyn Boys 4: Les Demi Dieux

Magazine-DemiGods01aThis is the fourth in a series of excerpts from the biographical introduction to Brooklyn Boys, the new monograph on Danny Fitzgerald and Les Demi Dieux.

In the early 1960s, Danny Fitzgerald and Richard Bennett also began promoting Fitzgerald’s photography under the studio name “Les Demi Dieux.” Working under an assumed name was not uncommon in the 1940s and ’50s when photographers were persecuted for their work. Bob Mizer had the Athletic Model Guild.  Don Whitman, the Western Photography Guild. Bruce Bellas called himself “Bruce of Los Angeles,” and Douglas Juleff, “Douglas of Detroit.”

So, throughout the early ’60s, male nudes by Les Demi Dieux appeared regularly on the covers and pages of slickly designed Joe Weider publications like The Young Physique, Muscles a Go-Go, Demi Gods, and Era (the publisher’s compilation volume celebrating the best photographers of the 1960s). Les Demi Dieux photographs featured popular models like Bennett, Albanese, and Orest, and lent Weider’s publications a visual impact and artistic quality that surpassed the average male physique magazines of the period.

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Brooklyn Boys 3: Richard Bennett

2441-2This is the third in a series of excerpts from the biographical introduction to Brooklyn Boys, the new monograph on Danny Fitzgerald and Les Demi Dieux.

With the start of the 1960s, Fitzgerald met Richard Bennett, the man who would become his collaborator and life partner until Fitzgerald’s death in 2000. A chiseled, masculine beauty with the natural ability of a classic artistic poser, Bennett came to New York City from working-class Scranton, Pennsylvania, looking for acting and modeling gigs. He apparently pursued Fitzgerald himself, submitting his resume to Fitzgerald through an enthusiast in the Bronx who was familiar with the photographer’s aesthetic.

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Brooklyn Boys 1: Carroll Gardens

BB_CoverBrooklyn Boys, the first monograph volume of Danny Fitzgerald and Les Demi Dieux’s photography, was released in October 2013 in Europe, to be released the following month in the United States. It features over 160 of Fitzgerald’s noteworthy photographs and a biographical introduction from 12 years of research. Excerpts from the intro will be presented on this website in several parts. This is the first.

The diffuse light inside the photographer’s parents’ home in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn illuminated a young man’s flesh differently than it did outside in broad daylight. On the street the sunlight was harsh. It blared like a delivery truck’s horn, sparked like a welding iron, crackled like a transistor radio on full volume. It matched the temper and bravado of the boys in their cars and on the basketball courts, at every moment proving its power to the neighborhood. But inside the photographer’s home, upstairs, where the young men removed their clothes, lit a cigarette and sat naked in a void between the pale wall and the photographer’s camera, the sun’s quiet illumination gave everything an honest focus, a sensual solitude. It poured through curtains of lace, airborne dust and fresh smoke, as it would through stained glass, providing the young men a silent retreat directed by a master of light and composition, and the photographer himself a focus for the many incongruities in his life between inside and out. In that space, the photographer created some of his most exquisite works of art.

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Read excerpts from “Brooklyn Boys” preface

4454-2We are pleased to present excerpts from the preface to the book Brooklyn Boys: Danny Fitzgerald and Les Demi Dieux, written and edited by James Kempster and partner Robert Loncar.

1
Brooklyn Boys: Carroll Gardens

2
Brooklyn Boys: Early Photography

3
Brooklyn Boys: Richard Bennett

4
Brooklyn Boys: Les Demi Dieux

5
Brooklyn Boys: The Photography

See all the posts from the preface of Brooklyn Boys.

Buy the book.

Danny, 1962

4454-2This model was named Danny, and appears to have been a small fellow, with a long neck and square shoulders, vacillating from one frame to the next between tough, playful and gentle. He posed for Fitzgerald out on the street, on the basketball court, and in Fitzgerald’s home studio. Almost always shirtless in chinos. Almost always with a cigarette. The film roll is dated 1962.

This image appears in the book Brooklyn Boys: Danny Fitzgerald and Les Demi Dieux.

Johnny, Vinny, Carroll Gardens, 1963

1468As far as we know, Fitzgerald never printed this image. We found a short, four-frame strip of images of brothers Johnny and Vinny (second and fourth from left) smoking between two vintage cars with friends, on a street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. The film roll was dated 1963.

This image appears in the book Brooklyn Boys: Danny Fitzgerald and Les Demi Dieux.