Herb Ritts began his photographic career in the late 70's and gained a reputation as a master of art and commercial photography. In addition to producing portraits and editorial fashion for Vogue, Vanity Fair, Interview and Rolling Stone, Ritts also created successful advertising campaigns for Calvin Klein, Chanel, Donna Karan, Gap, Gianfranco Ferré, Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani, Levi's, Pirelli, Polo Ralph Lauren, Valentino among others. Since 1988 he directed numerous influential and award winning music videos and commercials. His fine art photography has been the subject of exhibitions worldwide, with works residing in many significant public and private collections.
In his life and work, Herb Ritts was drawn to clean lines and strong forms. This graphic simplicity allowed his images to be read and felt instantaneously. They often challenged conventional notions of gender or race. Social history and fantasy were both captured and created by his memorable photographs of noted individuals in film, fashion, music, politics and society.
Ritts was committed to HIV/AIDS related causes, and contributed to many charitable organizations, among them amfAR, Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, Project Angel Food, Focus on AIDS, APLA, Best Buddies and Special Olympics . He was also a charter member on the Board of Directors for The Elton John Aids Foundation.
Herb Ritts passed away on December 26th, 2002.
Featuring 40 leading international and US galleries, PHOTOFAIRS | San Francisco is a highly curated, boutique fair that offers collectors and curators access to artists and galleries never seen before in the Bay Area.
Purple Diary included "Female Torso with Black Sand" by Herb Ritts and "Lady Round Brush" by Valérie Belin, displayed in Edwynn Houk Gallery's booth at Paris Photo 2017, amongst their top selections from the fair. Photographs by August Sander, Edward Weston, Andre Kertesz, Sissi Farassat, and Vera Lutter were also included.
Images of Herb Ritts is a miracle of lightness and harmony, the representation of a rare balance, not to hold, but that prints forever on photo paper and passes through the careful mix of natural elements, the exaltation of the body, evidence of light on their faces. Walking through one after the other photos of Ritts, we see the world not as it appears, but as we would like, offering only perfect day, blue skies, smooth bodies and faces heedless. Found in all his photographs natural elements which fed his gaze - the wind, the light and the land of California, the horizon of sight, the immense spaces - as well as the bodies of male and female models, their eyes , their clothes. The result is a rare and valuable combination of these ingredients and his photographic work a measured set of spontaneity and composition, glamor and immediacy, sophisticated poses and pure fun.
Every year, the Association of International Photography Art Dealers—or AIPAD for short—brings together more than 80 blue-ribbon galleries from all corners of the globe to showcase some of the most iconic, arresting, and progressive photography, video and new media from around the world. The show, now its 33rd year, filled the Park Avenue Armory last weekend with works from the likes of Irving Penn, Bill Brandt, Hendrik Kerstens, as well as W contributors like Alex Prager and Rineke Dijkstra. Though the show wrapped on Sunday, there are still a few images that we can’t get out of our heads. Here is a selection of the most striking.
Herb Ritts: L.A. Style—short film documentary brought to you by Lincoln in conjunction with the J. Paul Getty Museumexhibition and catalog, spring 2012. Insightful short documentary on the life and work of the photographer Herb Ritts. Film sponsored by Lincoln. Includes appearances by Naomi Campbell, Chris Isaak, Tatjana Patitz, Matthew Rolston, Greg Gorman, Erik Hyman, and Eric Buterbaugh.
In 2002, Vogue lost of one of its most significant contributors when the photographer Herb Ritts passed away, but his legacy has lived on in photography and film, both of which will be showcased in the Edwynn Houk Gallery’s first Herb Ritts show, which opens today, after being feted last night.
Ritts was born and raised in California, and it was the Western landscape and light of the Mojave Desert that provided the inspiration for his unique vision; two of the best-known images that will be shown, Versace Dress (Back View), El Mirage, 1990, and Versace-Veiled Dress, El Mirage, 1990, make use of both. These images are, at root, “fashion images,” but Ritts was able to create pictures that are essentially geometric abstractions, in some ways recalling the work of the Russian Constructivists Aleksandr Rodchenko and Kazimir Malevich.
“What we see is an elegant and timeless fashion design and a beautiful model, but what is not seen is Herb’s patience and commitment to the image and allowing the moment to happen and not be forced,” says Mark McKenna, who was Ritts’s former assistant and studio manager, and is now executive director of the Herb Ritts Foundation. “Waiting for the wind to lift the fabric to the exact spot in his mind’s eye, and giving it the time to be captured by that one frame while everyone else on the set was frantically rushing to pack things up and move off the dry lake bed before the looming storm would arrive minutes later. Herb knew how to capture the magic of the moment.”
“Herb was the easiest and nicest photographer,” says Charles Churchward, a former Vogue and Vanity Fair design director and a close friend of Ritts’s. “He knew how to get his subjects to perform for his camera, and in that way, he could create these most amazing images.”
Among those amazing images is one of the photographer’s most famous nudes, Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi, Hollywood, 1989. While both male and female nudes were an important part of Ritts’s body of work, it was this now-iconic photograph of a group of women, seductively seated, that visually defined the era of the nineties supermodel.
Edwynn Houk Gallery is pleased to announce our representation of the Herb Ritts Foundation with an exhibition of photographs drawn from the estate’s collection. The show will take place from 28 April through 25 June 2011.