From the Archive
The Fahey/Klein Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of famed fashion, nude, and portrait photographer Herb Ritts, representing¬ an overview of Ritts’ expansive career and remarkable influence in the world of photography. This exhibition coincides with the Herb Ritts exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum, “Herb Ritts: L.A. Style” opening in April, 2012. Herb Ritts’ iconic photographs are characterized by a graphic quality, with clean lines and strong forms that communicate strength, beauty, and elegance.
“Through hard work and a distinctive sense of style, Herb Ritts fashioned himself into one of the top photographers to emerge from the 1980’s. Ritts’ intimate sense of portraiture and his modern yet classical treatment of the nude—as well as his innovative approach to fashion—brought him international acclaim and place his work securely within an American tradition of photography along with Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Irving Penn. Ritts’ ability to create images that successfully bridged the gap between art and commerce was not only a testament to the power of his imagination and technical skill but also marked the synergistic union between art, popular culture, and business that followed in the wake of the Pop Art movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s.” (Paul Martineau, “Herb Ritts: L.A. Style”, 2012)
The centerpiece of the gallery’s exhibition is a unique silver gelatin mural measuring 8 feet tall by 32 feet in length. The mural features choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones, gracefully posing nude against a stark white background. This unique mural has only been exhibited once before, at the Herb Ritts exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1996.
This expansive piece examines how Herb Ritts initiated a radical shift in how the male and female nude was depicted in photography. Herb Ritts’ “forte was an ability to analyze the body from a variety of angles and create compositions that abstracted it in ways that communicate strength and poise. Working mostly outdoors, Ritts enjoyed relating the body to the natural world and rendered his nudes with a verve and elegance that became the dominant hallmarks of his pictures.” (Paul Martineau, “Herb Ritts: L.A. Style”, 2012)
Also on view in this exhibition is a selection of work from The Herb Ritts Archive. All of the photographs on view are original prints made during Herb Ritts’ lifetime. Most of the photographs in this exhibition are previously unpublished images, and have rarely been seen by the public. A very limited number of prints of each image were made, and in some instances, only one print is available.
Herb Ritts began his influential photographic career in the late 1970s, and in addition to producing iconic celebrity portraits and editorial fashion images for Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ, Interview and Rolling Stone, Ritts created successful advertising campaigns for designers including Calvin Klein, Chanel, Gap, and Versace. Ritts also directed numerous influential and award winning music videos and commercials.
Herb Ritts made provisions during his lifetime to create The Herb Ritts Foundation which continues to provide support to organizations that offer assistance and care for individuals affected by HIV/AIDS, as well as continues to support Herb’s great passion for photography by offering assistance to museums and institutions with educational programs that further advance the appreciation and study of photography.