Born in Los Angeles to a Jewish family, Ritts began his career working in the family furniture business. His father, Herb Ritts Sr., was a businessman, while his mother, Shirley Ritts, was an interior designer. He moved to the East Coast to attend Bard College in New York, where he majored in economics and art history. Later, while living in Los Angeles, he became interested in photography when he and friend Richard Gere, then an aspiring actor decided to shoot some photographs in front of an old jacked up Buick. The picture gained Ritts some coverage and he began to be more serious about photography. He photographed Brooke Shields for the cover of the Oct. 12, 1981 edition of Elle and he photographed Olivia Newton-John for her Physical album in 1981. Five years later he would replicate that cover pose with Madonna for her 1986 release True Blue. (Picture: Erik Hyman)
During the 1980s and 1990s, Ritts photographed celebrities such as Diana Ross, Christopher Reeve, Belinda Carlisle, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Michael Jordan, Dalai Lama, Mikhail Gorbachev, Francesco Clemente, George Clooney, Cher, Mel Gibson, Elizabeth Taylor, Brad Pitt, Ronald Reagan, Julia Roberts, Stephen Hawking, Nicole Kidman, Edward Norton, Tom Cruise, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dizzy Gillespie, Elton John, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Richard Gere, Jack Nicholson, Cindy Crawford, and Tina Turner.
Each of the 30 guests at Max Mutchnick's marriage participated in the combination wedding and Jewish baby-naming ceremony. The bridegrooms doted on their six nephews and four nieces while pacifying their infant daughters with their pinkies. Photo: Axel Koester for The New York Times
Jason Nidorf "Max" Mutchnick is an American television producer. He has received an Emmy Award, a People's Choice Award, and several Golden Globe Award nominations. Mutchnick married his partner, lawyer Erik Hyman, on October 25, 2008. Erik was Herb Ritts's partner until the day of Ritts's death in December 2002. The couple are fathers to twin girls, Evan and Rose, via a surrogate. The moved together one week later the first date, "and we have not spent a night apart since," Mr. Mutchnick said.
He took many fashion and nude photos of supermodel Cindy Crawford and eventually set her up with his good friend, actor Richard Gere, at a BBQ held at his mother Shirley's house. The couple married four years later in 1991, but divorced in 1995.
He also worked for the magazines, Interview, Esquire, Mademoiselle, Glamour, GQ, Newsweek, Harper's Bazaar, Rolling Stone, Time, Vogue, Allure, Vanity Fair, Details, and Elle. He photographed Prince for his The Hits/The B-Sides greatest-hits package released in 1993. He published many books on photography for leading fashion designers including, Giorgio Armani, Revlon, Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Gianni Versace, Calvin Klein, Elizabeth Arden, Donna Karan, Cartier, Guess, Maybelline, TAG Heuer, Lacoste, Gianfranco Ferré, Levi's, Victoria's Secret, Gap, Acura, CoverGirl, Lancôme, and Valentino. From 1996 to 1997 his work was displayed at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, attracting more than 250,000 people to the exhibit, and in 2003 a solo exhibition was held at the Daimaru Museum, in Kyoto, Japan.
The first video he directed was Madonna in "Cherish" in 1989. In 1991, he won two MTV Video Awards for his work on music videos by Janet Jackson and Chris Isaak. Ritts also directed the music video for Michael Jackson's "In the Closet", which featured supermodel Naomi Campbell. Ritts also worked on other projects, including directing and acting, on Mariah Carey's video collection #1's (1999), Jennifer Lopez's sepia video "Ain't It Funny", Janet Jackson's Design of a Decade 1986/1996 (1996), Intimate Portrait: Cindy Crawford (1998), Murder in the First (1995), Britney Spears' "Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know (2001) and Shakira's Underneath Your Clothes.
On December 26, 2002, Ritts died of complications from pneumonia. According to Ritts' publicist, "Herb was HIV-positive, but this particular pneumonia was not PCP (pneumocystis pneumonia), a common opportunistic infection of AIDS. But at the end of the day, his immune system was compromised." “It was like an ambush. He got sick so quickly with this crazy harsh pneumonia. The doctors said they had no idea what this pneumonia was,” said Erik Hyman, Ritts’ lover of six and a half years. “After Tuesday, he couldn’t speak anymore. He was definitely trying to hang in there. He was a fighter.” Ritts’ life ended at 8:55 a.m. on Thursday, December 26. He was 50.
Lawyer Erik Hyman was Herb Ritts's partner until the day of Ritts's death in December 2002. On October 25, 2008, Erik married Max Mutchnick, television producer. The couple are fathers to twin girls, Evan and Rose, via a surrogate.
Jason Nidorf Mutchnick (born November 11, 1965) is an American television producer. He has received an Emmy Award, a People's Choice Award, and several Golden Globe Award nominations. Mutchnick married his partner since 2005, lawyer Erik Hyman, on October 25, 2008. Erik was Herb Ritts's partner until the day of Ritts's death in December 2002. The couple are fathers to twin girls, Evan and Rose, via a surrogate
Mutchnick was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in Beverly Hills by his single Jewish mother. He got his start writing for game shows, Good Advice and The Wonder Years. He and David Kohan created Boston Common and Will & Grace. He also produced and wrote for Good Morning, Miami, and produced Twins and Four Kings with Kohan. The title characters of Will & Grace are based on Mutchnick and his best friend, Janet. Mutchnick, like Will Truman, is openly gay. He and Kohan have a production company, KoMut Entertainment, which is a combination of their two last names.
On June 7, 2006, Emerson College announced the naming of the Max Mutchnick Campus Center after Mutchnick donated a major gift. The apartment of Will Truman and Grace Adler currently resides in the Emerson College Library on display. The set was donated by Mutchnick.
After the first date Max Mutchnick had with agent Eric Wyman, Mutchnick knew he'd found someone different and special; they moved in together a week later, "and we have not spent a night apart since," Mr. Mutchnick said, adding he had never met a man as intelligent and confident, or one who could withstand his insecurities and histrionics. "Erik can stand up to Max," said Janet Eisenberg. "He’s a grown-up with his own career and his own point of view."
A 22-foot table was dressed in Egyptian cotton and hundreds of antique lavender roses and hydrangea. The guests dined by the glow of tealights and pillared candles in antique pewter hurricane lamps. Dinner was catered, but Mr. Mutchnick's mother baked the challah bread. Photo: Axel Koester for The New York Times
A prayer shawl enveloped both bridegrooms and their daughters for the baby-naming ceremony. Photo: Axel Koester for The New York Times
Mr. Mutchnick (far right) and Mr. Hyman vowed their love beneath a vine-cloaked pergola at their Tudor-style Beverly Hills home. Photo: Axel Koester for The New York Times
"People say ‘What’s the rush?’ But why the delay?" said Mr. Hyman, who had learned firsthand that time can be fleeting. "When you want to be with someone and you can be, I don’t see why you would be apart."
Within three months they were talking about having children, and 20 months later, in September, a surrogate gave birth to their daughters, Rose and Evan.
Mutchnick and Kohan are currently working on a half-hour comedy series for CBS called Partners.
Herb Ritts: The Golden Hour: A Photographer's Life and His World by Charles Churchward
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Rizzoli (October 26, 2010)
Amazon: Herb Ritts: The Golden Hour: A Photographer's Life and His World
The definitive book on the life of the legendary photographer Herb Ritts, with never-before-seen images and interviews with his closest confidants. At the time of his death in 2002, Herb Ritts was among the most celebrated photographers in celebrity portraiture, fashion, and music videos. During a career that spanned nearly thirty years, he was virtually in a league of his own in terms of style and productivity. Ritts was Hollywood royalty, as were his closest friends and the subjects he photographed. The Golden Hour reveals for the first time the personal aspects of Ritts’s world, work, and legacy. The book includes many never-before-seen photographs and scores of interviews from business associates, curators, staff, lovers, and family, such as Cindy Crawford, Elton John, Anna Wintour, Madonna, Calvin Klein, and Christopher Buckley (Ritts’s college roommate). The book includes images from Ritts’s personal archive—behind the scenes at photo shoots, parties, travels, intimate portraits, and moments with friends—along with notes and contact sheets that show how ideas became his best-known iconic images.
Herb Ritts: L.A. Style by Paul Martineau
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: J. Paul Getty Museum; 1 edition (April 3, 2012)
Amazon: Herb Ritts: L.A. Style
Herb Ritts: L.A. Style traces the life and career of the iconic photographer through a compelling selection of renowned, as well as previously unpublished, photographs and two insightful essays. Herb Ritts (1952–2002) was a Los Angeles-based photographer who established an international reputation for distinctive images of fashion models, nudes, and celebrity portraits. During the 1980s and 1990s, Ritts was sought out by leading fashion designers such as Armani, Gianfranco Ferrè, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Valentino, and Versace, as well as magazine editors from GQ, Interview, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair, among others, to lend glamour to their products and layouts. Largely self-taught, Ritts developed his own style, one that often made use of the California light and landscape and helped to separate his work from his New York-based peers. From the late 1970s until his untimely death from AIDS in 2002, Ritts’s ability to create photographs that successfully bridged the gap between art and commerce was not only a testament to the power of his imagination and technical skill, but also marked the synergistic union between art, popular culture, and business that followed in the wake of the Pop Art movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
An exhibition of the same name will be on view at the Getty Center from April 3 through August 12, 2012; at the Cincinnati Art Museum from October 6 through December 30, 2012; and at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida, from February 23 through May 19, 2013.
More Photographers at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Art
More LGBT Couples at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance
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