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L.A. Style: Herb Ritts at the Ringling

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By Heather Dunhill The highly distinctive black-and-white photography of Herb Ritts is as iconic as those who modeled for them. California-born, Ritts shot his film among the elements of the place he knew as home: Los Angeles. Hence the title of his up-coming exhibit at The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art: Herb Ritts: […]

February 21, 2013


By Heather Dunhill

6HR

Herb Ritts (American, 1952 – 2002)
Djimon with Octopus, Hollywood, 1989
Gelatin silver print / Image: 50.8 x 40.6 cm (20 x 16 in.) / Framed: 76.2 x 63.5 cm (30 x 25 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Herb Ritts Foundation, 2012.23.16
© Herb Ritts Foundation

The highly distinctive black-and-white photography of Herb Ritts is as iconic as those who modeled for them. California-born, Ritts shot his film among the elements of the place he knew as home: Los Angeles. Hence the title of his up-coming exhibit at The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art: Herb Ritts: L.A. Style.

“I think with any artist, they really document their time and place – if you want to 100 years from now look back and see what was happening in California, you can look at Herb’s pictures.” –David Fahey

Herb Ritts (American, 1952 - 2002) Versace Dress, Back View, El Mirage, 1990 Gelatin silver print / Image: 61 x 50.8 cm (24 x 20 in.) / Framed: 76.2 x 63.5 cm (30 x 25 in.) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Herb Ritts Foundation, 2012.23.22 © Herb Ritts Foundation

Herb Ritts (American, 1952 – 2002)
Versace Dress, Back View, El Mirage, 1990
Gelatin silver print / Image: 61 x 50.8 cm (24 x 20 in.) / Framed: 76.2 x 63.5 cm (30 x 25 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Herb Ritts Foundation, 2012.23.22
© Herb Ritts Foundation

Ritts was a man of great passion, enthusiasm and uncanny photographic genius. The Ritts signature style is noted in his technical skill, particularly with natural and hard lighting, which drew a straight line to his romantic use of shadows. His work is considered artful photography of a sculptural and sexy nature. Ritts skillfully captured texture and the intimate connection between photog and subject, eventually evolving his naturally brilliant talent from film to filmmaker.

“They were simple shots, they were just better than everybody else’s.” –Chris Isaak

Herb Ritts (American, 1952 - 2002) Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi, Hollywood, 1989 Gelatin silver print / Image: 46.8 x 50.3 cm (18 7/16 x 19 13/16 in.) / Sheet: 50.5 x 58.4 cm (19 7/8 x 23 in.) / Mount: 54.4 x 62.2 cm (21 7/16 x 24 1/2 in.) /Framed [outer dim]: 76.2 x 86.4 cm (30 x 34 in.) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Herb Ritts Foundation, 2011.18.28 © Herb Ritts Foundation

Herb Ritts (American, 1952 – 2002)
Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi, Hollywood, 1989
Gelatin silver print / Image: 46.8 x 50.3 cm (18 7/16 x 19 13/16 in.) / Sheet: 50.5 x 58.4 cm (19 7/8 x 23 in.) / Mount: 54.4 x 62.2 cm (21 7/16 x 24 1/2 in.) /Framed [outer dim]: 76.2 x 86.4 cm (30 x 34 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Herb Ritts Foundation, 2011.18.28
© Herb Ritts Foundation

If you think you don’t know Herb Ritts, I promise you do. His images are iconic and unforgettable–they graced the covers of Vogue, Interview, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. His photography became distinctly memorable in ad campaigns for notable brands from Levi’s to Chanel and Gap to Valentino. And Ritts left an indelible mark on the world of music videos with the likes of Madonna’s “Cherish” and Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game,” among many, many others, as well as television commercials that likely influenced many of our purchases from 1988-2002.

Herb Ritts (American, 1952 - 2002) Naomi Campbell, Face in Hand, Hollywood, 1990 Gelatin silver print / Image: 49 x 40.6 cm (19 5/16 x 16 in.) / The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Herb Ritts Foundation, 2011.18.19 © Herb Ritts Foundation

Herb Ritts (American, 1952 – 2002)
Naomi Campbell, Face in Hand, Hollywood, 1990
Gelatin silver print / Image: 49 x 40.6 cm (19 5/16 x 16 in.) / The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Herb Ritts Foundation, 2011.18.19
© Herb Ritts Foundation

In the wake of his passing in 2002, Herb Ritts is still influencing generations of photographers and filmmakers.

If you want to see more, the exhibit runs February 22–May 19, 2013 with an incredible calendar of events, listed below.

Also, this is a fabulous documentary, which coincides with the exhibit, and features the words of those who knew, worked with and loved Herb Ritts:

Documentary: Herb Ritts L.A. Style

Ringling Museum of Art Calendar of Events for Herb Ritts: L.A. Style

ViewPoint: An Inspired Eye: The Photographs of Herb Ritts
Lecture presented by the exhibition’s curator, Paul Martineau, associate curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Saturday, February 23, 10:30 a.m. in the Historic Asolo Theater. For tickets or information, call 941.360.7399 of visit www.ringling.org.

Gallery Walk & Talks:
Herb Ritts: The Body as Object, Thursday, March 21, 6 p.m.
Herb Ritts: A Distinctive Sense of Style, Thursday, April 25, 6 p.m. Walk & Talks are free for museum members and complimentary with admission to Art After 5. They are held in the Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing Galleries of the Museum of Art.

Film: Herb Ritts and Prêt-à-Porter (Ready to Wear)
Part of the Ringling Museum’s Art and a Movie program on Thursday, May 2. Pick up your movie ticket and gallery guide at the admissions counter beginning at 5 p.m.; film begins at 7 p.m. The movie will be screened in the Historic Asolo Theater and followed by a tour of the exhibition.

The Museum store is also carrying a catalogue, Herb Ritts: L.A. Style, written by Paul Martineau with an essay by James Crump. A seductive collection of portraits and nudes from the famed fashion photographer is beautifully reproduced in this handsome volume. Hardcover, $59.95.

Herb Ritts (American, 1952 - 2002) Cindy Crawford, Ferre 3, Malibu, 1993 Gelatin silver print / Image: 35.6 x 27.9 cm (14 x 11 in.) / Framed: 55.9 x 45.7 cm (22 x 18 in.) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Herb Ritts Foundation, 2011.18.6 © Herb Ritts Foundation

Herb Ritts (American, 1952 – 2002)
Cindy Crawford, Ferre 3, Malibu, 1993
Gelatin silver print / Image: 35.6 x 27.9 cm (14 x 11 in.) / Framed: 55.9 x 45.7 cm (22 x 18 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Herb Ritts Foundation, 2011.18.6
© Herb Ritts Foundation

Click here to read more about Herb Ritts: L.A. Style in our February issue.

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