Biography: Conceptual photographer Joel-Peter Witkin

Biography: Conceptual photographer Joel-Peter Witkin


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

© Joel-Peter Witkin

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© Joel-Peter Witkin

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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

© Joel-Peter Witkin

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© Joel-Peter Witkin

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© Joel-Peter Witkin

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© Joel-Peter Witkin

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© Joel-Peter Witkin

Humor And Fear, NM, 1999

© Joel-Peter Witkin

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© Joel-Peter Witkin

Satiro, Mexico, 1992

© Joel-Peter Witkin


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