Joel-Peter Witkin Photographer

topic posted Mon, September 4, 2006 - 3:46 PM by  Unsubscribed
This guys images can be disturbing. But I just love looking at them. Striking and beautiful and gruesome at the same time. He uses people with deformities, dwarves, even cadavers. Most images seem to be set up to mirror a myth or story, or some other familiar image. Put a few images in the gallery.
here is a bio and link

Joel-Peter Witkin (born September 13, 1939, in Brooklyn, New York City) is an American photographer.

He was born to Jewish father and a Roman Catholic mother. He has a twin brother, Jerome Witkin, who also plays a significant role in the art world for his realistic paintings. His parents divorced when Witkin was young because they were unable to transcend their religious differences. He attended grammar school at Saint Cecelia's in Brooklyn and went on to Grover Cleveland High School. He worked as war photographer between 1961 and 1964 during the Vietnam war. In 1967 he decided to work as a freelance photographer and became City Walls Inc. official photographer. Later, he attended Cooper Union in New York where he studied sculpture and became Bachelor of Arts in 1974. After the Columbia University granted him a scholarship he ended his studies at the New Mexico University in Albuquerque, where he became Master of Fine Arts.

Witkin claims that his vision and sensibility were initiated by an episode he witnessed when he was just a small child, a car accident that occurred in front of his house in which a little girl was decapitated. He also claims that the difficulties in his family were an influence for his work too. His favourite artist is Giotto, but the most obvious artistic influences on his work are Surrealism, particularly Max Ernst, and Baroque art. His photographic techniques draw on early Daguerreotypes and on the work of E. J. Bellocq.

His work often deals with such themes as death, corpses (or pieces of them) and various outsiders such as dwarves, transsexuals, hermaphrodites and physically deformed people. His complex tableaux often recall religious episodes or famous classical paintings. Because of the transgressive nature of the contents of his pictures, his works have been labeled exploitative and have sometimes shocked public opinion. His art was often marginalized because of this challenging aspect.

He employs a highly intuitive approach to the physical process of making the photograph, including scratching the negative, bleaching or toning the print, and an actual hands-in-the-chemicals printing technique. This experimentation began after seeing a 19th-century ambrotype of a woman and her ex-lover who had been scratched from the frame.

Exhibition at Zonezero

Gallery of Images

Tribute Page (click on an image and it will take you to the next)

Page at the Edelman Gallery

Witkin at Artcyclopedia

At the Fahey Klein gallery

Witkin at Artnet
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  • Unsu...

    Re: Joel-Peter Witkin Photographer

    Mon, September 4, 2006 - 5:41 PM
    I saw a show of his photography at a local gallery here in Atlanta. To say it haunts me still is an understatement. Because of its quality, I viewed the entire show, otherwise I would have left before I was finished. It really can be disturbing but it's exquisitely done.
  • Unsu...

    Re: Joel-Peter Witkin Photographer

    Wed, September 6, 2006 - 8:39 PM
    Damn Sean thanks. This is the most wonderful in-depth post on an artist we've had and a really really cool addition to our board, thank you. This guy J.W.-Witkin is indeed fascinating.
    It's cool you added the concise bio too. I'm always fascinated in people's religious backgrounds and that or may not have been of them. It makes up a huge amount of the human condition. Thanks for adding the info, as well as the links.

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