Herb Ritts: L.A. Style

Beautifully curated, beautiful work. Models, dancers, actors suspended in flat, endless, white space. Only a few photographs have a tricked up mise en scene like Djimon Hounsou with an octopus on his head.

Can you imagine the smell under those hot lights?

His nudes are glory-that-was-Greece spectacular.

And he really gets movement. Check out Olympics track star Jackie Joyner Kersee in mid stride, her shadow dancing with her.

I was dreading but happily did not find Mappelthorpe’s base objectification of black men. He lacks Avedon’s sensual appreciation for the female form, but his women rarely cede their agency and are never framed by prurience. A group shot of five supermodels including Naomi Campbell and Tatjana makes you feel that Ritts respects at least the concept of sisterhood.

His work manages to capture an era in a very precise way while feeling timeless.  Nice work if you can get it. The only strange note was a companion exhibit on early celebrity photography that felt odd and arbitrary.

This exhibit at the Getty closes on August 26. (www.getty.edu)

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About liftingasweclimb

Mildred Lewis writes and directs for theater, television, film and the web. She's also a full time professor, Christian, activist and troublemaker with a passion to save as much of the world as she can.
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