Joel-Peter Witkin  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikiquote
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

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 University of New Mexico 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.

"It happened on a Sunday when my mother was escorting my twin brother and me down the steps of the tenement where we lived. We were going to church. While walking down the hallway to the entrance of the building, we heard an incredible crash mixed with screaming and cries for help. The accident involved three cars, all with families in them. Somehow, in the confusion, I was no longer holding my mother's hand. At the place where I stood at the curb, I could see something rolling from one of the overturned cars. It stopped at the curb where I stood. It was the head of a little girl. I bent down to touch the face, to speak to it -- but before I could touch it someone carried me away."[1]

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 dwarfs, 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.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Joel-Peter Witkin" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools