Titans of Rock and Roll Featured in Chrysler Exhibition of Iconic Portraits by Herb Ritts

  • NORFOLK, Virginia
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  • June 08, 2016

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Herb Ritts (American, 1952 – 2002) David Bowie III, Los Angeles, 1987 Photographed for Rolling Stone Magazine Image © and courtesy of Herb Ritts Foundation

Meet the kings and queens of rock and roll in an exhibition featuring the photography of Herb Ritts at the Chrysler Museum of Art this summer. Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits will be on view June 24 to Sept. 18, 2016 at the Chrysler, where admission is always free.

Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits features iconic portraits of the biggest names in the past 30 years of music, including instantly recognizable images of David Bowie, Prince, Madonna, Cher, Janet Jackson and Bruce Springsteen. The exhibition also includes a peek behind the artist’s process in a display of contact sheets with red pencil markings showing how he chose the shots that would become famous.

Herb Ritts (American, 1952 – 2002) Madonna, Hollywood, 1986 From the True Blue album cover Image © and courtesy of Herb Ritts Foundation

“Herb Ritts often took the picture that now comes to mind when you think of your favorite rock star,” says Acting Curator of Photography Seth Feman, who co-curates the show with Deputy Director Susan Leidy.

The exhibition is complemented by a selection of rock and roll memorabilia on loan from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, where the exhibition originated in 2015. Items include Rod Stewart’s tiger-striped jumpsuit, Elton John’s top hat and Bruce Springsteen’s leather jacket. Guests can also snap selfies in a Selfie Station against a beachy background inspired by Madonna’s “Cherish” music video and share on social media with the hashtag #RittsRocks.

Over the course of his career, Ritts captured intimate portraits of fashion and entertainment industry stars. He was one of the first still photographers to transition to directing commercials and music videos, creating such memorable pieces as Chris Isaak’s seductive “Wicked Game” and Janet Jackson’s “Love Will Never Do Without You.”

“Ritts had the ability to make his subjects look at once like mythical gods and like your best friends,” Leidy says. “He gives you personal access to rock legends.”

In addition to producing portraits and editorial fashion photographs for Vogue, Vanity Fair, Interview and Rolling Stone, Ritts created advertising campaigns for Calvin Klein, Chanel, Donna Karan, Gap, Giorgio Armani, Levi’s and Polo Ralph Lauren, among others. His fine art photography has been the subject of exhibitions worldwide.

Ritts, who was HIV positive, died of pneumonia at the age of 50 in 2002. The exhibition is presented by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in collaboration with the Herb Ritts Foundation, which advances the art of photography and supports HIV/AIDS causes in a manner that reflects the spirit and values that Ritts exemplified during his lifetime.


Behind the Lens: Herb Ritts and the Rock Portraits

Saturday, June 25 | 2 p.m.

Look into the prolific career of Herb Ritts with two of his closest colleagues and friends. Join Laurie Kratochvil, former Director of Photography for Rolling Stone, and Mark McKenna, Executive Director of the Herb Ritts Foundation, for a conversation in the Kaufman Theater about his life and legacy. R.S.V.P. at reservations.chrysler.org. Free.

Herb Ritts (American, 1952 – 2002) Image © and courtesy of Herb Ritts Foundation

Third Thursday: Rock-in’ and Rockin’ Out

Thursday, July 21 | 5-10 p.m.

We’ve got driving backbeats, wailing guitars, and drop-the-mic vocals tonight as both Huber Court and the Museum gardens are devoted to all things rock. Free for Museum Members and students with current ID, $5 for all others. Cash bar.

Third Thursday: Rock On!

Thursday, Aug. 18 | 5-10 p.m.

Jam out with the next generation of stars, the house band from Norfolk’s School of Rock. From Aerosmith to Zeppelin, there’s not a rock classic they can’t slay. Free for Museum Members and students with current ID, $5 for all others. Cash bar.

Gallery Talk: A Look at Herb Ritts

Wednesday, July 27 | 11 a.m.

Consider how images become iconic. Curator of Exhibitions/Acting Curator of Photography Seth Feman leads this in-depth tour of Ritts’ memorable portraits from the angles of technical expertise and creative artistry. Free.

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