The work of Herb Ritts is an incredible response to Los Angeles. He took the glamour of Hollywood and folded it inside of our landscape, taking celebrities and models and placing them on the beaches of Malibu and in the barren Salton Sea. With a dash of Robert Mapplethorpe and Greek sculpture, Ritts became a Los Angeles photography icon. He died in 2002 far too young from complications with pneumonia and is continually celebrated for his specific, beautiful style. The Getty has an exhibit showcasing a large selection of his work with Herb Ritts: L.A. Style. In addition to his photos, a documentary was released on Ritts’ from the point of view of his subjects, collaborators, peers, and followers.
The film is directed by Aion Velie and does an excellent job of analyzing Ritts’ work. He was a commercial photographer with a very specific style that pushed him from the commercial world and onto another plane. He effortlessly was able to crossover mediums and maintain his visual voice as directing work like Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” proves. His photos stand as illustrations of a specific time period and a specific place. As someone says in the video, “a hundred years from now, if you want to look back and see what was happening in California, you can look at Herb’s pictures.”
The documentary is a little over eleven minutes and is a perfect commemoration of his life and work. The video is on view at The Getty in addition to online. Herb Ritts: L.A. Style is on view through September 2: see it while you can!