Is there anything more glamorous than an Herb Ritts photo? Buffed, burnished bodies bending and flexing; mysterious, made-up Amazons hiding behind diaphanous veils; celebrities in haughty poses and even haughtier couture—all in glorious, flattering black and white. It’s no wonder his images came to define the 1980s and ‘90s, that period of heady excess, economic growth and outsized supermodels.
“Herb Ritts: LA Style,” a new exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles running April 3 to August 26, showcases Ritts’ glamorous world. That iconic photo of Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana and Naomi huddled together in a nude embrace is here; as is a portrait of a young Richard Gere wearing a tank top and blue jeans, a smoldering symbol of American masculinity. But “LA Style” also includes Ritts’ Classical-inspired nudes and more daring fashion photos, which, at their best, are modernist masterpieces. Ritts, who died in 2002 at the age of 50 from AIDS, did more than peddle Hollywood fantasies: he, perhaps more successfully than any other photographer, bridged the gap between commercial and art work, and he did it in a way that was beautiful, sexy and always surprising.
Click through for a sneak peek at the exhibit’s prints.
Versace, Veiled Dress, El Mirage, 1999. Photo: Herb Ritts
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