Especially for Carl I made this update about that picture.
Herb Ritts delighted in the portrayal of an idealized--even exaggerated--human form. One of his best-known works, "Fred with Tires" (1984) became possibly the archetypal photograph of the male body in the 1980s and made the world-wide reputation of its commercial photographer, Herb Ritts. Gay men flocked to buy it. Drawn by the powerful, perfectly sculpted body, the butchness of his job, the dirty trousers, the boots and the body placed within the social context. The image of this guy was a constructed fantasy, not the 'real' thing. His hair is teased up and beautifully styled, the grease is applied to his body just so, his body twisted to just the right degree to accentuate the muscles of the stomach and around the pelvis.
Ritts eschewed realism in making Fred appealing in the midst of all the sludge and grunge — makeup turned into grease and tires into something intrinsically mysterious. There were many details/entendres: converging lines of the torso, diverging lines of arms and tires, the oversized zipper, but the photo was not really posed.
“Each time I did assignments or editorials, I realized that I wanted to do something more. I saw that it wasn’t just about the clothes. Starting in 1984, I had an assignment for
for a magazine called Per Lui, which was the counterpart of Lei. Lei was the
most forward magazine in the early eighties, and it was because Franca was so great
in encouraging everyone. I did a story called “The Body Shop”, which is where
Fred with Tires emerged from. Franca had sent these really hideous raincoats, and I just hated them. I
had hired an editor, a freelance named Michael Roberts, who now works at the
New Yorker. We ended up going to Western Costumes and getting vintage jeans and
overalls. We decided to do the body shop story at a greasy gas station. It was
great fun. We turned in the pictures, and Franca almost had a
heart attack. But she ran it, and it was a huge success. I still don’t know why
it happened. It was just one of those honest pictures. I remember when we were
shooting it. Poor Fred, who was a student, had to swing these heavy tires
around, and at one point he was so tired he just turned around and stood there.
It was the last frame of the shoot." Franca
Ritts became well known for dramatic black-and-white photographs that focused on a single part of the subject's body. His portrait of Olympic heptathlon champion Jackie Joyner-Kersee captures her lower torso and powerful thighs in mid-leap; her head appears only in shadow on the ground. Many of Ritts's photographs celebrate the well-developed body. Some of his images have been compared to classical statuary because of the exquisiteness of the subjects' form. Other photos, however, show human vulnerability: Christopher Reeve posing in his wheelchair, Elizabeth Taylor revealing her scar after brain surgery, the brilliant physicist Stephen Hawking struggling against his frailty.
Ritts died in
He is survived by his partner, Erik Hyman, an entertainment attorney.
Herb Ritts and Michael Jackson