Herb Ritts - Photographs London Friday, September 25, 2020 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Robert Klein Gallery, Boston, 1997

  • Exhibited

    Herb Ritts: WORK, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 22 October 1996 - 9 February 1997, another
    Herb Ritts, Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris, 11 December 1999 - 12 March 2000, another
    Herb Ritts: L.A. Style, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 3 April - 26 August 2012; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, 6 October - 30 December 2012; John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, 23 February - 19 May 2013, another
    Herb Ritts, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 14 March - 8 November 2015, another
    Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 26 June - 21 October 2018, another

  • Literature

    H. Ritts, Men/Women, Santa Fe: Twin Palms, 1989, n.p.
    Herb Ritts: WORK, Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1996, n.p.
    Herb Ritts, Paris: Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, 2000, n.p.
    Herb Ritts: L.A. Style, Los Angeles: Getty, 2012, pl. 28
    Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, Los Angeles: Getty, 2018, p. 281, pl. 188

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘You’re trying to get to one moment with one frame that may eventually speak to your generation.’

    Herb Ritts

    In 1989, Herb Ritts photographed this era-defining portrait of legendary supermodels Stephanie Seymour, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz and Naomi Campbell while working on a story for Rolling Stone magazine. Presented in timeless monochrome against a minimal background, the subjects gaze back at the viewer with their graceful limbs intertwined. Taken at a time before Ritts used his own studio, the photograph shows the deck of his Hollywood Hills home. Cindy Crawford recalls the making of this now-iconic image:

    We’re at Herb’s house, this is a tiny, tiny little – not even a terrace – like an outdoor hallway. Naomi’s probably almost touching the house. Stephanie is obviously almost touching the wall on the left. We’re crammed in this five-foot space. That’s why we’re so close together. I’m sure they had clothes there, but often with Herb, there were clothes there and you ended up not wearing them. I think like any good relationship, you have trust, and that’s why I was able to do things with Herb that I wouldn’t probably have done with other people. I didn’t have to protect myself because I knew Herb was protecting me.

    While the published image from the session that appeared in the May 1989 issue of Rolling Stone did not include Christy Turlington (fig. 1), who had signed an exclusive contract with Calvin Klein the previous year, she had stopped by Ritts’s house and unexpectedly joined the shoot for a few frames. ‘We said, “How can you not be in this picture?”’ Naomi Campbell remembers. 'And she jumped in, and that was it!' The resulting image, which was done in a mere two minutes, best embodies Ritts’s belief that ‘surprise in the moment is the true magic of the medium.’

    Ritts succeeded in not only photographing these five supermodels in the same place at the same time but also capturing a profound sense of intimacy, trust and tenderness through the unity of their naked bodies and interwoven limbs to create one of the most well-known images in the history of fashion photography. ‘And the one particular thing that I love about this picture,’ expressed Ritts, ‘there’s a very true soulfulness coming from these girls. Obviously, they’re nude – it’s not about fashion – but they were great friends, and all of a sudden, you just put them together and have them knowing each other. There’s a great heart that comes when I look at that picture and think back about how they just started.’

    The J. Paul Getty Museum holds another print from this edition and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, holds a larger print that was exhibited as part of their groundbreaking 1996 retrospective, Herb Ritts: WORK, which remains one of the most popular exhibitions in their history. The exquisite example offered here has remained in the same private collection since 1997 and is appearing at auction for the first time.



Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi, Hollywood

Gelatin silver print, mounted on board.
Image: 47 x 50.5 cm (18 1/2 x 19 7/8 in.)
Mount: 55 x 64.8 cm (21 5/8 x 25 1/2 in.)

Signed by the artist, titled, dated, numbered 25/25 by the Herb Ritts Studio in pencil and copyright credit stamp on the reverse of the mount.

This work is number 25 from the edition of 25 + 3 APs. As of this writing, the other prints from the edition are held in various collections, including the J. Paul Getty Museum, and with the Herb Ritts Foundation.

£70,000 - 90,000 

Sold for £100,000

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Rachel Peart
Head of Sale, Specialist

Yuka Yamaji
Head of Photographs, Europe

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London Auction 25 September 2020