Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Book Preview: Michael Stokes "Bare Strength"

In 2012, Michael Stokes released Masculinity, a coffee table photography book featuring the male form. It kind of took the world by storm and his work was featured on mainstream television shows such as Good Morning America, The Today Show, and Jay Leno.

Well, thanks to German publisher Bruno Gmünder, Michael Stokes is back with an amazing new coffee table book Bare Strength. Once again, the book features the raw beauty of the male physique. While some photos are a bit more than mildly erotic, the book is really more of a testament to the stunning, artistic vision of the photographer. 

Bare Strength is broken into photographic collections. For example, the opening chapter is Classic Bare, a collection of exquisite photographs paying homage to classical poses from historical paintings or earlier eras of erotic photography. Other chapters include Athletes or Barely Dressed. But, by far, the best section of the book is the titular chapter Bare Strength. In this chapter, Stokes captures astonishingly beautiful photographs of military men and their amputations, sometimes with their artificial limbs, sometimes without. The photos are truly jaw dropping. Michael also makes sure to help contribute to the Semper Fi Fund, which helps care for injured soldiers and their families.

In the preface to Bare Strength, Michael Stokes writes:
I’ve often heard my photos described as homoerotic, but at this time the majority of the people that follow my work are women. So, if a heterosexual woman is viewing an image of a nude heterosexual man, how is this homoerotic? The answer might lie with the feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey, who coined the term the “male gaze.” Mulvey‘s central thesis is that the voyeur or spectator is traditionally male and derives visual pleasure from a dominant and controlling perspective, while the female submits to the male gaze and is fetishized as the main sexual object. For many, the disruption of this convention is too much. And no doubt I knew this as a photography student. Along with Edward Weston’s seashells, I wish my college professor had shown us Minor White’s nudes. If I had the chance to do it all over, I would have loaded the print drying racks in my college darkroom with male erotica. Now I draw inspiration from our predecessors, and when my model asks me what he should wear, I say, “As little as possible.”
Right now, Bare Strength is exclusively available via Bruno Gmünder. It won't be released to any other book seller until mid to late 2015. However, if you like the pics below and want to look before you leap, you can check out a full preview of the book here. There is nudity, so you might not want to go there at work. You can check out more about Michael Stokes at his Website or Facebook page.

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