In Full Light
Herb Ritts Exposed in Finland
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.