In Full Light

Herb Ritts Exposed in Finland

BY: Jes Zurell

If a man could be a pair of jeans, Herb Ritts would be the Levi’s 501 – impossibly timeless, never outdone by imitators, deceptively simple, and able to ‘ship the sexy bits of every last pelvis in Hollywood.’ His photography oeuvre is nothing but one clean, clear statement after another. Like a notorious fuckboy, you look at a photograph by him and you know exactly what it’s thinking:

Let’s get inside those pants, sugarlove.

The Salo Art Museum in Finland opened a show of Ritts’s work in May entitled “In Full Light,” in honor of the late photographer’s affinity for shooting in the golden heat of midday sun, when most shots risk too much exposure. He wasn’t interested in photos that celebrated fashion; instead, he used fashion photography as a vehicle to explore sensuality and human expressions.

Unlike many of the major shows hanging now, there’s a deliberate quality to his work that goes against the candid joie de vivre celebrated by street photographers. His work redefines the photography term “point and shoot” in such a way that it’s no longer about what a camera allows you to do – it’s about making a hard-and-fast artistic decision, then making it happen. His sensibility is almost accusatory, as though he could look at anyone and tell exactly how to coax their sexiest, most provocative selves to the surface.

It goes without saying that lots of clothes ended up on the floor when he had a camera in his hands. With any luck, when you take a look at this show yours might, too.

 

Alek Wek, by Herb Ritts
Alek Wek, by Herb Ritts

 

Backflip, Paradise Cove, by Herb Ritts
Backflip, Paradise Cove, by Herb Ritts

 

Christy Turlington, Profile, by Herb Ritts
Christy Turlington, Profile, by Herb Ritts

 

Cindy Crawford, by Herb Ritts
Cindy Crawford, by Herb Ritts

 

David Bowie III, Los Angeles, by Herb Ritts
David Bowie III, Los Angeles, by Herb Ritts

 

Demi Moore, by Herb Ritts
Demi Moore, by Herb Ritts

 

Duo VI Los Angeles, by Herb Ritts
Duo VI Los Angeles, by Herb Ritts

 

Madonna, by Herb Ritts
Madonna, by Herb Ritts

 

Now and Zen, by Herb Ritts
Now and Zen, by Herb Ritts

 

Tony in White, by Herb Ritts
Tony in White, by Herb Ritts