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Joel-Peter Witkin by Elizabeth Avedon | Le Journal de la Photographie


Joel-Peter Witkin by Elizabeth Avedon


Joel-Peter Witkin and Son, Albuquerque 1988. Photograph by Herb Ritts © Herb Ritts Foundation

“Witkin is a photographer who has been mistaken for a grave robber, whose works were described by Marina Isola as “Part Hieronymus Bosch, part ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre.’”

Cindra Wilson,

“I’m a really happy person, but I think most people think I’m some sort of a monster. I’m intensely poetic, intensely sincere. I want to make a contribution to life and the quality of life, because I want to diminish evil and raise the possibility of goodness. I think that’s what every artist wants to do whether they’re totally conscious of that or not.” Joel-Peter Witkin

Joel-Peter Witkin, born in 1939 in Brooklyn, New York, now based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, may be at the height of his career. This month his exhibition Heaven or Hell is opening at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and running concurrently at a gallery in Paris is an exhibition of all new work titled History of the White World.

“It begins with my first conscious recollection, I was six years old. It happened on a Sunday, my mother was escorting my brother and myself down the stairs of the tenement where we lived. We were going to church. Walking through the hallway to the entrance of the building, we heard an incredible crash mixed with screams 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. I could see something rolling from one of the over-turned cars. It stopped at the curb where I stood. It was the head of a little girl. I reached down to touch the face, to ask it, but before I did, someone carried me away. It could have defeated me, and I would have become insensible. Instead I chose to accept the injury and go on; because my will is stronger than death, stronger than the lostness of these times. This, my first conscious visual experience, left it’s mark.” Witkin wrote in his monograph, The Bone House (Twin Palms Publishers).

via Joel-Peter Witkin by Elizabeth Avedon | Le Journal de la Photographie.