In a twenty year span of enormous creativity most often associated in the public eye with fashion and celebrity portraiture, Herb Ritts would return again and again to the capacity of the human body for the expression of beauty and strength. HisRitts’ admiration for the classical expressed in abstracted, strong, clear forms enhanced by studio or available light is apparent already in his first editioned nude studies. Renowned for his celebration of the body, Herb Ritts was part of a photographic lineage that may be as easily traced to Edward Weston’s modernist peppers and nudes as to Eadweard Muybridge’s classical studies of the body in motion.
Born in Brentwood, California in 1952, Ritts studied art history and economics before pursuing a career as a photographer. Soon to excel with classic and elegant images, he also had a special instinct for coaxing a telling, realistic moment out of his subjects. His easygoing nature earned their trust, freeing them to drop their guard. Often described as having glorified the cult of celebrity by introducing movie stars into fashion layouts, Ritts merely, but masterfully, responded to the tenor of the times. His images graced the covers of Vogue, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and Interview. As his reputation as photographer grew, he created memorable advertising campaigns for Armani, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Donna Karan and Versace.
Herb Ritts’ photography has been the subject of numerous exhibitions since 1985. The 1996 retrospective at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, featuring 236 photographs, attracted more than 250,000 visitors.
Staley-Wise Gallery has exhibited Ritts’ photographs since 1985. Concentrating on the male and female nude, BODY, opens on February 4th and is on display until March 19th, 2005. The exhibition consists of vintage silver gelatin and platinum prints.
Herb Ritts’ publications include Pictures, Men/Women, Notorious, Duo, Africa and Work.
The Herb Ritts Foundation, created in 2002, actively supports educational arts programs and HIV/AIDS non-profit organizations.