Anyone coming to age in the 1980s has seen the iconic fashion and glamour photos of American artist Herb Ritts (1952-2002). He shares that coveted place at the very top of the genre with Richard Avedon, Bruce Weber and Helmut Newton. Apart from producing intimate portraits (Madonna, Drew Barrymore, Prince), sinewy nudes (the original top models of Turlington, Evangelista, Campbell, Crawford) and outright fabulous fashion editorials for Vogue, Vanity Fair, Interview and Rolling Stone, Ritts created memorable advertising campaigns for high profile brands like Calvin Klein (remember Marky Mark?), Gianni Versace, Valentino and Chanel.
What draws me to his images is first, the standard collective cultural reference of the 1980s-1990s. Ritts’ style is particular to a place and time. Second, his clean lines and strong forms make for sensual “eye candy”. In the image above, Ritts shot model Carolyn Murphy partly draped in Donna Karan and wearing a stupendous ostrich quill hat by Stephen Jones. It was shot in El Mirage, California, one of his favorite spots because of the light and its pure and simple but somewhat rough terrain that allowed him to balance the shapes of nature with the props and immaculate models to create his impeccable images.
Winning the coveted representation of the Herb Ritts Foundation in Europe, the Edwynn Houk Gallery is proudly presenting a selection of Ritts’ nude and glamour photographs in its Zurich space from 8 September to 29 October. What a wonderful opportunity for both viewers and collectors! As I sadly missed the show in NY last May, I just wonder if they have any prints available in their NY space? Hmm. I guess I’ll call!
Image: Now and Zen 1, El Mirage, 1999. Courtesy of The Herb Ritts Foundation and the Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York and Zurich.