Joel-Peter Witkin

Joel-Peter Witkin, “Cupid and Centaur in the Museum of Love, Maseillesr”, 1992, Vintage Toned Gelatin Silver Print, 30 ½ × 27 in, Private Collection

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. 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.

Witkin 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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