Featured Image // ARTIST Robert Mapplethorpe DESCRIPTION Lisa Lyon DATE 1981 COLLECTION Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Archives, New York, NY SOURCE guggenheim.org
Standing 5′ 4″ and weighing 120 lbs, Lisa Lyon could dead-lift 225 pounds, bench-press 120 pounds, and squat 265 pounds. This combination of strength, training and dedication, would earn her the championship at the first International Federation of Bodybuilders Women’s World Pro Bodybuilding Championship in Los Angeles in 1979. Her physique was impressive but, in 1979, was not considered desirable. Although she had posed for Playboy magazine, the published images simultaneously objectified and softened her physique. Lyons was styled and directed for the Playboy demographic.
Robert Mapplethorpe was unapologetic in his black and white photography. Strongly criticized for depicting the BDSM subculture in New York City in the 1970’s, it would take years before his subject matter would be included in definitions of “high-art”. Mapplethorpe continued to redefine art with his portrait series Lady, Lisa Lyon in 1981; during a time when her muscular body was considered unconventional.