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Press Release

Memorial Exhibition
Private Collection (Photographs Collected Over 20 Years)

December 11, 2003 through January 24, 2004
Opening Reception, Thursday, December 11, 7 - 9 p.m.

The Fahey/Klein Gallery is pleased to present the Herb Ritts Memorial Exhibition, which features his classic nudes, portraits, and fashion photographs made over his 25-year career in photography. Concurrent with this show, we are also exhibiting Herb Ritts' Private Collection of photographic works, including images by August Sander, Man Ray, Edward Weston, Diane Arbus, Irving Penn, and Horst among many others.

The Herb Ritts Memorial Exhibition is being held in memory of his untimely death on December 26, 2002. Herb Ritts made unforgettable pictures of the cultural and political icons in our world. In addition to his classic portraits of well-known personalities in our contemporary, pop culture, Ritts also made riveting portraits of writers, artists, and political figures. His approach was always fresh and bold, simultaneously capturing the strength and vulnerability of his subjects. A selection of never before seen photographs will be included in the exhibition.

Herb Ritts left us a photographic record of his time and place, a portrait of our era. He left behind images of perfection; the formal and illuminating portrait; the perfectly composed and dramatically graphic nude. He was a skillful purveyor of style. Known for his attention to minute detail and particularly to understanding the nuances in available light, he also had a keen ability in observing human beings. He possessed a talent for focusing on a unique physical characteristic of his subject and making this quality a dominant feature in the portrait.

"Coming from California and growing up where I did, I've always had a fondness for and innate sensitivity to light, texture, and warmth. I abstract it in my photographs: I like large planes and spaces, areas of texture and light, like deserts or oceans or monumental places. That's why I felt so at home when I went to Africa. It didn't matter that I was halfway around the world in a foreign country, because all those elements are universal. And I think that's one thing about my work: It's universal. Regardless of whether you speak the language or are familiar with a culture, the picture should hold up," Herb Ritts says of his images. (Fondation Cartier pour l'art Contemporain, 1999, Press Release)

He can cake his subjects in mud or sand, wrap them in gauze, shoot the back of their heads, or make them look like eugenic angels. He can transmute, transform, enhance, lie, embellish and beautify. He uses sex, comedy and copious amounts of hard California sun to turn his subjects into beach-baked icons masquerading as Modern Greek status. Perfection might be open to interpretation, but not in this world." (Dylan Jones, Observer Magazine, "Big Shots, The Photography of Herb Ritts")

"He [Herb Ritts] belongs to the tradition of Steichen, Baron de Meyer and Horst, but the world and the imagination he creates is his own: radical, and in a sense, pure. Ritts' people seem like gods and goddesses: they wear few clothes and have few possessions, they are sexually irrepressible, and they inhabit and elemental landscape of earth, air, water, and occasionally, fire. Like the gods, they also have a wicked sense of humor. There is another aspect of the Ritts world that I find fascinating. In a sense it is truly a classless world, a world of opportunity in which anyone with talent or good looks may become a star, a world without barriers of race or barriers of sexuality: a world which appeals strongly to contemporary aspirations and values."(Malcolm Rogers, Director of Museum of Art, Boston (1996)) Photography writer/critic, Ingrid Sischy discusses Herb Ritts, "There might be dozens and dozens of photographers in this field, but there aren't that many who can make classics."

According to the New York Times, the Herb Ritts "Work" Exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, was listed among the "15 most heavily attended museum shows of 1996." Over a quarter of a million people attended this exhibition.

Herb Ritts began his photographic career in the late 1970's with informal portraits of friends in the movie industry and gained a reputation as a major photographer of artists, athletes, political figures, actors, musicians, as well as fashion. In addition to working in the editorial field for such publications as Vogue, Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone, Ritts has directed music videos and commercials and created memorable major advertising campaigns for Giorgio Armani, Chanel, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, and Versace among others. In the past 10 years, he has had solo exhibitions of his fine art photography in Los Angeles, New York, London, Boston, Vienna, Hamburg, Rome, Tokyo and Milan. Herb Ritts has produced the following publications: Pictures, Men/Women, Notorious, Duo, Africa, Kazu, Work, and Fondation Cartier Pour L'art Contemporain.

Also on display will be Mr. Ritts' private photography collection - a unique glimpse at what images a famed photographer was inspired by and found a place in his private collection including photographs by Man Ray, Hans Bellmer, Dorthea Lange, Joel-Peter Witkin, George Platt-Lynes, Horst, Pierre Molinier, Robert Mapplethorpe, Richard Avedon, Karl Blossfeldt, Edward Curtis, Diane Arbus, Irving Penn, and Frantisek Drtikol among many others. These two exhibitions will provide a rare opportunity to view the photographer's well-known classic images in the context of his privately collected photographs, many of which influenced his work.

These two exhibitions benefit the Herb Ritts Foundation. The Herb Ritts Foundation is established to provide scholarship funding for the study of photography. Additionally, the foundation will support education programs and museum exhibitions that advance the art of photography. The foundation will also distribute funds to various charities and AIDS organizations.

For those of you who wish to make a tax-deductible gift to the foundation, please make your contribution payable to:

Herb Ritts Jr. Foundation
P.O. Box 1618
Los Angeles, CA 90028
For more information please call (323) 466-0026