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American Adonis: Tony Sansone, The First Male Physique Icon Hardcover – July 23, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0789310729 ISBN-10: 0789310724 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Universe; First Edition edition (July 23, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789310724
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789310729
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.8 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,468,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Massey is an art historian who has lectured at the Birmingham Museum of Art and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By boyblue on September 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
John Massey in a herculean work of original research has rescued both a significant figure in the history of the emergence of public gay culture in America in the early 20th century, Tony Sansone, and his photographer, Edwin Townsend, both of whom were on the verge of being completely forgotten. This book is a notable contribution to the history of gay culture and art and deserves to be in any comprehensive collection of such materials. It is beautifully produced by Universal, an affiliate of Rizzoli, and was printed in Italy. The book will be at home on the most sophisticated gay and gay friendly coffee tables, not that the book is overtly gay, even with all the beautiful full frontal nudes of one of the most idolized body builders in the history of the sport.

Tony Sansone is important because he circulated in fascinating intersecting circles which existed in the early 20th century in New York and Hollywood. Born the son of poor Italian immigrants in Brooklyn, by sheer grit Tony rose to become a protege of the powerful publisher Bernarr Macfadden, one of the wealthiest men in America and even once a candidate for president.

Through Macfadden and his famous bodybuilding exhibitions at Madison Square Garden he met Charles Atlas, who became a friend and fan. By his late teens Tony was stepping into the worlds of art, theater, bodybuilding, and moviedom.

None other than Gertrude Whitney facilitated his career and used him as a model as did other lesser scuptors of the period. Sculptures from these associations are still held in the Whitney Museum of American Art's collections.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ganymede on December 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rarely do I write reviews but I felt compelled to with this book. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in celebrating the beauty of the nude male physique. I discovered pictures of Tony Sansone a few years back on website of vintage muscle men and was immediately taken by his classical beauty--he stood out among the many other images. Needless to say, I was thrilled to discover this book and it did not disappoint. Tony has the one of the most perfectly symmetrical bodies that I have ever seen, and it is showcased beautifully throughout the book with a plethora of tasteful and classical nude poses that are pleasure to look upon. Tony appears so comfortable with himself and the camera that it makes the images all the more appealing.

As the pictures are from the early part of the 20th century, I also thoroughly enjoyed the way in which the photographer captured Tony. And though the images are not paritcular homoerotic, I did not find this to be a negative, actually I found it a refreshing respite from the Abercrombie style homoeroticism that most books in the genre love to portray. In the end, all I can say is you are sure to enjoy this book if you appreciate classic Roman/Greco beauty.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Esteban Molina on November 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Next to the photographs of Sansone shown here, much of today's male photography seems crude or overly "artful" [that is, with the setting as important as - and sometimes more important than - the figure itself]. Whoever Tony Sansone was when not posing - the total person, I mean, in all his complexity - the images he left us and given us here have, for me, a very moving un-selfconsciousness. There seems to be no effort whatsoever made to be alluring, provocative, "sexy", or particularly erotic. He stands there quite openly, ingenuously, a man gifted with great beauty of face and form and innate grace of movement as well, his sense of line surpassing that of many classically trained dancers. He presents us his beauty and grace as a gift to be enjoyed. It is done with great simplicity and - I have to say, at least for me - with what seems to be genuine innocence. And it is this sense of innocence that I find so very moving - even as much as his beauty is moving. There are many books full of images of beautiful men. I have found none that have Sansone's touching simplicity and, I am tempted to say, purity. This is indeed a rare book - in this or in any genre!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Tony Sansone (1905-1987) was born in New York City, the son of Sicilian immigrants, in many ways is the father of male physique models. Despite early childhood bouts with scarlet fever and typhoid fever leaving him a fragile lad, he began his interest in health and sports at age 14, and upon discovering Physique Magazine at age 16 he became obsessed with bodybuilding, studying his chosen sport with Charles Atlas. At age 18 he won a physique contest created by Atlas and the die was cast. He became sought after by photographers who captured his miraculous physique for posterity in magazines and books. He has been compared to Rudolph Valentino in that he is credited for making the public aware of the beauty of the male form. Because of his popularity as a male physique model and his philosophy of physical fitness he became the goal image for the growth of fitness gyms that to this day remain popular.

John Massey, an art historian who has lectured at the Birmingham Museum of Art and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, has gathered many of the finest photographs of Tony Sansone and has presented them in this book that can only he heralded as an homage to the king of bodybuilding. The photographs are vintage and reflect the quality of photography of the first half of the 20th century, but that does not diminish the impact of viewing this astonishing example of male physique. Of note, 'Tony Sansone, 6 feet tall, 185 lbs had muscles that were highly defined but did not display the massive bulkiness common in modern bodybuilding. Sansone, in fact, took no interest in measurements, preferring a look that was more slender and flexible. His training included weightlifting, running, swimming, and gymnastics. Sansone was especially strong in parallel bar work.
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