As the Pacific Standard Time family of programs continues to expand, a variety of exhibitions pushes to explore the more eclectic alternatives to the prevalent artistic movements of midcentury SoCal, going far beyond the main nodes of Light & Space, identity politics and Conceptualism. But few go as far beyond as Stephen Cohen's new exhibition, "The History of Bruce: The Extraordinary Life & Times of Bruce of L.A., 1948-1974." Active in L.A. from 1948 until his death in 1974, his career both influenced and coincided with the peak popularity of "physique photography," which is basically a nice way of saying classed-up naked guys. Contained within this genre's lifespan are the seeds of what other artists like Mapplethorpe, Bruce Weber and even Tom of Finland would cultivate an appreciation for the astonishing beauty of the male body that could, if executed properly, take its place alongside the female nude as an acceptable, mainstream paragon of beauty in visual art. And with his exceptional technical skills, creative confidence and irreverent sense of humor, Bruce did it better than anyone. This unprecedented exhibition presents never-before-seen prints, best-loved favorites and supporting materials that illuminate the career of this kingpin of chic cheesecake. Stephen Cohen Gallery, 7358 Beverly Blvd.; Thurs., Jan. 26, 6-9 p.m.; open Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m., thru March 17; free. (323) 937.5525; stephencohengallery.com.
Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: Jan. 26. Continues through March 17, 2012