Lot Details

81.28 x 101.6 cm

American, b. 1939
Joel-Peter Witkin is a photographer whose images of the human condition are undeniably powerful. For more than twenty years he has pursued his interest in spirituality and how it impacts the physical world in which we exist. Finding beauty within the grotesque, Witkin pursues this complex issue through people most often cast aside by society -- human spectacles including hermaphrodites, dwarfs, amputees, androgynes, carcasses, people with odd physical capabilities, fetishists and "any living myth . . . anyone bearing the wounds of Christ." His fascination with other people's physicality has inspired works that confront our sense of normalcy and decency, while constantly examining the teachings handed down through Christianity. His constant reference to paintings from art history, including the works of Bosch, Goya, Velasquez, Miro, Botticelli and Picasso are testaments to his need to create a new history for himself. By using imagery and symbols from the past, Witkin celebrates our history while constantly redefining its present day context. Visiting medical schools, morgues and insane asylums around the world, Witkin seeks out his collaborators, who, in the end, represent the numerous personas of the artist himself. The resulting photographs are haunting and beautiful, grotesque yet bold in their defiance a hideous beauty that is as compelling as it is taboo. Witkin begins each image by sketching his ideas on paper, perfecting every detail by arranging the scene before he gets into the studio to stage his elaborate tableaus. Once photographed, Witkin spends hours in the darkroom, scratching and piercing his negatives, transforming them into images that look made rather than taken. Through printing, Witkin reinterprets his original idea in a final act of adoration. Joel-Peter Witkin lets us look into his created world, which is both frightening and fascinating, as he seeks to dismantle our preconceived notions about sexuality and physical beauty. Through his imagery, we gain a greater understanding about human difference and tolerance.[silverstein]

Read more
Publication: Witkin, Joel-Peter, 1939-. Joel-Peter Witkin / introduction by Eugenia Parry. New York : Thames & Hudson, 2008. Blake, William, 1757-1827. Songs of experience / William Blake ; photographs by Joel-Peter Witkin ; edited and with an introduction by John Wood ; published by Steven Albahari. [South Dennis, Mass.] : 21st Edtions, [2002]. Witkin, Joel-Peter, 1939-. Compassionate beauty / Joel-Peter Witkin ; herausgegeben von Erik Stephan für die Städtischen Museen Jena. ; Textübersetzungen: Lucinda Rennison, Miriam Wiesel und Caroline Gutberlet]. Jena : Städtische Museen Jena, Galerie im Stadtmuseum, c2002. Witkin, Joel-Peter, 1939-. Joel-Peter Witkin, disciple et maître / présentation de Pierre Borhan. Paris : Marval, c2000. Witkin, Joel-Peter, 1939-. The bone house / Joel-Peter Witkin. Santa Fe, N.M. : Twin Palms Publishers, 1998. Witkin, Joel-Peter, 1939-. Witkin. Paris : Galerie Baudoin Lebon, [1991] Witkin, Joel-Peter, 1939-. Gods of earth and heaven / Joel-Peter Witkin. Pasadena, Calif. : Twelvetrees Press, 1989. Witkin, Joel-Peter, 1939-. Joel-Peter Witkin : forty photographs / introduction by Van Deren Coke. San Francisco, Calif. : San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, c1985. Witkin, Joel-Peter, 1939-. Joel-Peter Witkin : photographies : exposition du 4 au 30 mars 1985. Rennes : Institut franco-américain, c1985.
No condition report has been added for this lot. Please contact the specialist for further information.
  • Private Collection, USA
  • Pickup Location: New York, USA
  • Shipping Dimensions: 32 x 40 in. (81.28 x 101.6 cm.)
Accepted: Wire Transfer
Note: Payment must clear before work is shipped. Packing, Shipping and Insurance to be paid by buyer.

artnet Assurance Policy: Every artnet Auctions seller has been approved by artnet after a thorough review. All of our sellers are required to accept the following artnet policy: A buyer may return an item purchased through artnet Online Auctions, if the item received is not as described in its listing, or is found to be not authentic.
Please see our full Return Policy for details.