Joel-Peter Witkin

American, born 1939

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established
Established Representation

Joel-Peter Witkin

American, born 1939

918
Followers
established
Established Representation
Biography

For more than twenty years, Joel-Peter Witkin has pursued his interest in spirituality and how it impacts the physical world. The artist creates surreal tableaux with which he seeks to dismantle our preconceived notions about sexuality and physical beauty. Void of all shyness—finding desire within the repugnant and sacred within the profane—Witkin approaches these complex issues by working with the people most often cast aside by society in an unapologetic presentation of deformity. He begins each image by sketching his ideas on paper and perfecting every detail before he picks up his camera. Once the scene is photographed, he spends hours in the darkroom, scratching and piercing his negatives, transforming them into pictures that look made rather than taken. From their conception to their completion as ornate constructions, his references to traditional art historical iconography serve as a backdrop to his subjects and as a foundation for his ideas.

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Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
established
Established representation
Represented by industry leading galleries.
user
Solo show at a major institution
MoMA PS1, and 2 more
group
Group show at a major institution
International Center of Photography (ICP)
Instituion
Collected by a major institution
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum
fair
Included in a major biennial
Whitney Biennial
Biography

For more than twenty years, Joel-Peter Witkin has pursued his interest in spirituality and how it impacts the physical world. The artist creates surreal tableaux with which he seeks to dismantle our preconceived notions about sexuality and physical beauty. Void of all shyness—finding desire within the repugnant and sacred within the profane—Witkin approaches these complex issues by working with the people most often cast aside by society in an unapologetic presentation of deformity. He begins each image by sketching his ideas on paper and perfecting every detail before he picks up his camera. Once the scene is photographed, he spends hours in the darkroom, scratching and piercing his negatives, transforming them into pictures that look made rather than taken. From their conception to their completion as ornate constructions, his references to traditional art historical iconography serve as a backdrop to his subjects and as a foundation for his ideas.

Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
established
Established representation
Represented by industry leading galleries.
user
Solo show at a major institution
MoMA PS1, and 2 more
group
Group show at a major institution
International Center of Photography (ICP)
Instituion
Collected by a major institution
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum
fair
Included in a major biennial
Whitney Biennial