From Cindy Crawford to Naomi Campbell, new exhibition shows how Herb Ritts' photography 'came to define the era of the supermodel'
19:25 GMT, 23 March 2012
Pop culture and fashion of the Eighties and Nineties was characterised in large part by the rise of the supermodel and is best illustrated by the images of Cindy, Naomi, Christy and friends that dominated every billboard, magazine cover and music video of the time.
Many believe that no one captured the essence of that period better than Herb Ritts, the iconic photographer and director who died ten years ago from AIDS at age 50.
And so as a tribute to the legendary artist who was credited with bridging the gap between art and commerce, the J.Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles will open an exhibit featuring a carefully curated selection of his work early next month.
Herb Ritts was lauded for his iconic images of supermodels in the Eighties and Nineties like this photo shot in 1989 of Stephanie Seymour, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz,and Naomi Campbell
Djimon with Octopus, Hollywood, 1989, perfectly exemplifies how Ritts was able to bridge the gap between art and the commercial. The actor appeared in a Janet Jackson music video shot by Ritts in 1990
The exhibition will be the first since a 1996 show at the Museum of Fine Art in Boston that attracted record numbers of visitors numbering over 253,000.
According to the New York Times, though some have called Ritts 'formulaic, he 'belongs in the tradition of Richard Avedon, Louise Dahl-Wolfe and Irving Penn.'
Famous faces and bodies: Cindy Crawford, Ferre 3, Malibu, 1993 (left) and Bill T. Jones VI, Los Angeles, 1995 (right) are just two of the iconic photographs that will appear in an exhibition that will also include a selection of athletes and nudes
Supermodel Tatjana Patitz posed for Ritts in 1998 for this, Tatjana, Veiled Head, Joshua Tree (left), while a male model was bound in chains for a nude portrait (right)
With a career that began in the late
1970's, the California-born Angelino rose to fame with his portraits and
editorial shoots of fashion stars and celebrities.
pointed his lens at Madonna, Michael Jackson, Julia Roberts and Tom
Cruise to name but a few of the famous faces he snapped, publishing his
work in such publications as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Interview and Rolling
Bold: Ritts directed his lens at models not just for artistic and editorial purposes like these but also for advertising campaigns for Calvin Klein, Versace and Chanel
The human form: Olympians Greg Louganis and Jackie Joyner-Kersee also posed for the legendary photography who tragically died from AIDS in 2002 at age 50
He applied his signature simplicity
of composition and strength of form to advertising campaigns for Calvin
Klein, Chanel and Gianni Versace among others, that are still instantly
Herb Ritts was only 50 when he died from pneumonia caused by AIDS. This exhibition will be the first since 1996
in the late Eighties, he turned his attention to the moving image
directing adverts and music videos to huge critical acclaim.
The Los Angeles exhibit has been curated by Paul Martineau who described Ritts as an impulsive photographer.
'He wasn’t someone who had everything scripted,' he told the New York Times. 'He approached shoots organically.'
a press release Mr Martineau said: 'Herb Ritts embraced his life in Los
Angeles in every aspect and that is evident in his photographs. You can
feel the Southern California light and warmth in his work and, without
question, it influenced his pictures.'
The show is the result of months spent sorting through almost 1,000 boxes of photographs at the Herb Ritts Foundation and will include a 1993 shot of Cindy Crawford on a Malibu beach and one of actor Djimon Hounsou with an octopus on his head.
But a majority of the selected works are of the lesser known faces; the dancers, athletes and nudes that showcase his non-commercial talent.
'I didn’t want as many celebrities because I felt they had been given a lot of time,' explained Mr Martineau. 'I was interested in the most elegant work rather than the most whimsical.'
The exhibition will open on April 3 and run through to August 26 at the J.Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.