Joel-Peter Witkin is an American artist whose constructed photographs depict macabre often grotesque scenes. Working in the vein of the earlier photographers Henry Peach Robinson and Oscar Gustave Rejlander, Witkin carefully builds scenes with cadavers, hermaphrodites, and dwarfs which introduce literary, religious, and art historical allusions. “I have consecrated my life to changing matter into spirit with the hope of one day seeing it all. Seeing in its total form, while wearing the mask, from the distance of death,” the artist reflected. “And there, in the eternal destiny, to seek the face I had before the world was made.” Born on September 13, 1939 in Brooklyn, NY, Witkin earned his BA at the Cooper Union School of Art and later an MFA from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. In 2011, a survey book was published, providing a concise insight into the working methods and ideologies of the photographer. Today, his works can be found in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. The artist currently lives and works in Albuquerque, NM.
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