Raise your hand if you like toys! I’m talking about cool action figures like G.I. Joe, the Incredible Hulk, and Stretch Armstrong. What’s not to like about these guys? For one, they’re fun when placed in sticky situations. And two, they play quite the imaginative role in Tony Kelly’s photo book that puts a provocative spin on the age-old “battle of the sexes.”
Welcome to the fabulous and twisted world of Irish photographer Tony Kelly. Having photographed some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, with spreads in Vogue Paris, Playboy, and Vanity Fair, Kelly is no stranger to controversy. In his recent self-published coffee table book Tonys Toys, Kelly forces us to examine the sexual divide between men and women, but in a humorous way. Kelly’s concept pushes the limits of propriety by featuring toy men totally perving on real women in a variety of lewd set-ups.
Kelly’s tongue-in-cheek commentary is smart and funny. After all, the men in the images are pocket-sized, yet their lechery is larger than life. And with the women serving as essential window dressing for the guys to ogle and feel-up, it’s hard not to overlook another power dynamic playing out—dominance and submission. Depending on the point-of-view, one could construe his work as overtly objectifying of women, while other’s may see the women as having all the power. Whatever the book’s message, there is no denying that Tony Kelly offers a powerful dose of layered interpretations, and we get to play the part of voyeur.
“[The] men are reduced to powerless pawns in the presence of a beautiful female.” —Tony Kelly
One of Kelly’s artistic talents is manipulating scale and proportion, which is seen throughout much of his work. However, the juxtaposition of the larger female form with boy toys appears to emphasize an alternative theme—-Macrophilia. Perhaps it’s his own fantasy, or simply an ingenious concept, but one can’t help see how giantess females can ultimately make men feel powerless and vulnerable. In Tonys Toys, it’s the woman who always comes out on top.
Photography is not derivative of painting. It occupies its own space and makes its own rules; allowing photographers like Kelly to express their inner man-child. With that being said, Kelly maintains authorship by including his trademark ingredients such as color, dynamism, and high contract. He injects his personal brand of humor and sense of controversy to create bold, imaginative works of art. While this delicious collection of sexy and vibrant images will undoubtedly elicit varied reactions from the viewer, Tony Kelly’s chief goal is first and foremost to stir, move, and entertain.
To learn more about Tony Kelly, check out his site here.4