PhotoBiography: Joel Peter Witkin

PhotoBiography: Joel Peter Witkin
International Photography Grant 2019

Joel-Peter Witkin (born September 13, 1939) is an American photographer. His work often deals with such themes as death, corpses, and various outsiders such as dwarves, transsexuals, hermaphrodites, and physically deformed people. Witkin’s complex tableaux often recall religious episodes or classical paintings.

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.

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Joel Peter Witkin

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Joel Peter Witkin

Gods of Earth and Heaven, LA, 1988

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Joel Peter Witkin

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Joel Peter Witkin

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Joel Peter Witkin

The Raft of George W. Bush, NM, 2006

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Joel Peter Witkin

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Joel Peter Witkin

Humor And Fear, NM, 1999

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Joel Peter Witkin

Satiro, Mexico, 1992

Joel Peter Witkin

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International Photography Grant 2019