Curated by Paul Martineau for the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. He revolutionized fashion photography, modernized the nude, and transformed celebrities into icons. Through hard work and a distinctive vision, Herb Ritts (1952–2002) fashioned himself into one of the top photographers to emerge from the 1980s. Ritts’s aesthetic incorporated facets of life in and around Los Angeles. He often made use of the bright California sunlight to produce bold contrasts, and his preference for outdoor locations such as the desert and the beach helped to separate his work from that of his New York-based peers.
L.A. Style presents Ritts’s intimate portraiture, his modern yet classical treatment of the nude, and his innovative approach to fashion which brought him international acclaim and placed him securely within an American tradition of portrait and magazine photography that includes Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Irving Penn. Ritts’s images that bridged the gap between art and commerce are not only a testament to the power of his imagination and technical skill, but also the synergistic union between art, popular culture, and business that followed in the wake of the Pop Art movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
Image: Herb Ritts; Versace Dress, Back View, El Mirage (1990); Gelatin silver print; Image: 61 x 50.8 cm (24 x 20 in.) Framed: 76.2 x 63.5 cm (30 x 25 in.); El Mirage, California, United States, North America; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Herb Ritts Foundation; © Herb Ritts Foundation; 2012.23.22