Joel-Peter Witkin Lecture
September 9, 2016 – 5:30 pm
Free parking available after 5pm in Lot 3039 behind CCP
About the Photographer:
Joel-Peter Witkin has famously said of his work, “I wanted my images to be as powerful as the last thing a person sees or remembers before death.” His grotesque, hauntingly beautiful photographs engage with history and spirituality, embodiment and mortality. Witkin creates elaborate tableaux populated with little people, amputees, hermaphrodites, the unusually-abled and the dead—a cast of characters whose sheer otherness is seductive. He draws his imagery from a wealth of literary, art historical, and mythological sources, meticulously staging scenes that reference academic painting, Surrealism, and the nineteenth-century proto-Pictorialist photographers Henry Peach Robinson and Oscar Gustave Rejlander. Once he has photographed a scene, Witkin often spends weeks in the darkroom manipulating and printing the image by hand. At a moment in visual culture when even journalistic photographs are Photoshopped, Joel-Peter Witkin’s obsessively-realized fabrications offer their own peculiar truth.
Witkin’s work is included in public collections such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA, The National Gallery, Washington, DC; the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England; the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, France. He is the recipient of the Commandeur d’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de France.