Brian Finke, ‘Untitled (Bodybuilding #1)’, 2003, ClampArt

Brian Finke spent nearly two years photographing male and female bodybuilders at both professional and amateur competitions. As with his earlier work, Finke transforms what might be a standard photojournalistic project into something much more complex and wholly unique. In many ways, Bodybuilding is a direct continuation of the artist’s earlier interest in and exploration of athleticism — the pageantry and ritual, in addition to the artifice and irony of diversity within uniformity. At its most fundamental, this project comments upon our society’s obvious obsession with the body and appearances. Finke’s subjects have taken cultural standards of beauty to heart, and then pushed them beyond all comprehensible limits. Yet, without judgement or reproof (and instead with lighthearted humor), Finke opens our eyes to the inanity of our own obsessions.

Series: Bodybuilders

Signature: Signed, titled, numbered, and dated, verso

About Brian Finke

In search of the essence of team ritual and identity, photographer Brian Finke turns his lens on groups of people, embedding himself in such varied worlds as the circles of bodybuilders, flight attendants, high school cheerleaders, and frat boys. Inspired early on by the work of photojournalist W. Eugene Smith, Finke takes a documentary approach, often spending years following his subjects, immersing himself in their lives in order to capture carefully framed yet candid moments that comment upon contemporary culture. He uses a medium-format Hasselblad with flash in order to, as he describes, “create images that heighten the everyday, to create a reality that is larger than life.”

American, b. 1976