Joel-Peter Witkin

Poetic Realism
October 16 - November 15, 2008
Exhibition Views Thumbnail View
Selected Works Thumbnail View
'The History of Hats In Art' for the New York Times, Hopper, Prada fur helmet, 2006 Chromogenic print 23 5/8 x 17 inches'The History of Hats In Art' for the New York Times, Hopper, Prada fur helmet, 2006 Chromogenic print 23 5/8 x 17 inches

'The History of Hats In Art' for the New York Times, Hopper, Prada fur helmet, 2006
Chromogenic print
23 5/8 x 17 inches

'The History of Hats In Art' for the New York Times, Picasso, Chanel Bowler, 2006 Chromogenic print 23 5/8 x 17 inches'The History of Hats In Art' for the New York Times, Picasso, Chanel Bowler, 2006 Chromogenic print 23 5/8 x 17 inches

'The History of Hats In Art' for the New York Times, Picasso, Chanel Bowler, 2006
Chromogenic print
23 5/8 x 17 inches

'The History of Hats In Art' for the New York Times, Matisse, Dior Glasses and Scarf, 2006 Chromogenic print 17 x 23 5/8 inches'The History of Hats In Art' for the New York Times, Matisse, Dior Glasses and Scarf, 2006 Chromogenic print 17 x 23 5/8 inches

'The History of Hats In Art' for the New York Times, Matisse, Dior Glasses and Scarf, 2006
Chromogenic print
17 x 23 5/8 inches

'The History of Hats In Art' for the New York Times, Magritte, Louis Vuitton Wool Garden Hat, 2006 Chromogenic print 23 5/8 x 17 inches'The History of Hats In Art' for the New York Times, Magritte, Louis Vuitton Wool Garden Hat, 2006 Chromogenic print 23 5/8 x 17 inches

'The History of Hats In Art' for the New York Times, Magritte, Louis Vuitton Wool Garden Hat, 2006
Chromogenic print
23 5/8 x 17 inches

'The History of Hats In Art' for the New York Times, Manet, Alexander McQueen Feather Hat, 2006 Chromogenic print 23 5/8 x 17 inches'The History of Hats In Art' for the New York Times, Manet, Alexander McQueen Feather Hat, 2006 Chromogenic print 23 5/8 x 17 inches

'The History of Hats In Art' for the New York Times, Manet, Alexander McQueen Feather Hat, 2006
Chromogenic print
23 5/8 x 17 inches

'The History of Hats In Art' for the New York Times, Rembrandt, Balenciaga Criss-cross Felt Hat, 2006 Chromogenic print 23 5/8 x 17 inches'The History of Hats In Art' for the New York Times, Rembrandt, Balenciaga Criss-cross Felt Hat, 2006 Chromogenic print 23 5/8 x 17 inches

'The History of Hats In Art' for the New York Times, Rembrandt, Balenciaga Criss-cross Felt Hat, 2006
Chromogenic print
23 5/8 x 17 inches

Naked Follow the Naked Christ, New York City, 2006 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 37 1/2 x 26 inchesNaked Follow the Naked Christ, New York City, 2006 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 37 1/2 x 26 inches

Naked Follow the Naked Christ, New York City, 2006
Gelatin silver print mounted to board
37 1/2 x 26 inches

Woman with Small Breasts, Paris (study), 2007 Collage, pencil and gouache 9 x 9 inchesWoman with Small Breasts, Paris (study), 2007 Collage, pencil and gouache 9 x 9 inches

Woman with Small Breasts, Paris (study), 2007
Collage, pencil and gouache
9 x 9 inches

Woman with Small Breasts, Paris, 2007 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 26 7/8 x 17 5/8 inchesWoman with Small Breasts, Paris, 2007 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 26 7/8 x 17 5/8 inches

Woman with Small Breasts, Paris, 2007
Gelatin silver print mounted to board
26 7/8 x 17 5/8 inches

The Raft of George W. Bush, New Mexico, 2006 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 28 5/8 x 33 3/4 inchesThe Raft of George W. Bush, New Mexico, 2006 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 28 5/8 x 33 3/4 inches

The Raft of George W. Bush, New Mexico, 2006
Gelatin silver print mounted to board
28 5/8 x 33 3/4 inches

Retablo, New Mexico, 2007 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 33 3/8 x 27 5/8 inchesRetablo, New Mexico, 2007 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 33 3/8 x 27 5/8 inches

Retablo, New Mexico, 2007
Gelatin silver print mounted to board
33 3/8 x 27 5/8 inches

Retablo, New Mexico (study), 2007 Ink and collage 16 1/2 x 12 1/2 inchesRetablo, New Mexico (study), 2007 Ink and collage 16 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches

Retablo, New Mexico (study), 2007
Ink and collage
16 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches

Fictional Storefronts- Camera Store Window, 2004 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 40 x 32 inchesFictional Storefronts- Camera Store Window, 2004 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 40 x 32 inches

Fictional Storefronts- Camera Store Window, 2004
Gelatin silver print mounted to board
40 x 32 inches

The Wife of Cain II, Paris, 2006 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 26 7/8 x 31 1/4 inchesThe Wife of Cain II, Paris, 2006 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 26 7/8 x 31 1/4 inches

The Wife of Cain II, Paris, 2006
Gelatin silver print mounted to board
26 7/8 x 31 1/4 inches

Wife of Cain II, Paris (study), 2005 Ink, pencil and collage 16 x 12 1/4 inchesWife of Cain II, Paris (study), 2005 Ink, pencil and collage 16 x 12 1/4 inches

Wife of Cain II, Paris (study), 2005
Ink, pencil and collage
16 x 12 1/4 inches

Life is an Invention, New Mexico, 2008 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 24 7/8 x 35 3/4 inchesLife is an Invention, New Mexico, 2008 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 24 7/8 x 35 3/4 inches

Life is an Invention, New Mexico, 2008
Gelatin silver print mounted to board
24 7/8 x 35 3/4 inches

Kertesz in Edo, 2005 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 23 1/2 x 35 1/2 inchesKertesz in Edo, 2005 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 23 1/2 x 35 1/2 inches

Kertesz in Edo, 2005
Gelatin silver print mounted to board
23 1/2 x 35 1/2 inches

Kertesz in Edo (study), 2005 Collage and colored pencil 9 1/4 x 11 3/4 inchesKertesz in Edo (study), 2005 Collage and colored pencil 9 1/4 x 11 3/4 inches

Kertesz in Edo (study), 2005
Collage and colored pencil
9 1/4 x 11 3/4 inches

Objects Near a Window, Paris, 2007 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 27 1/2 x 22 5/8 inchesObjects Near a Window, Paris, 2007 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 27 1/2 x 22 5/8 inches

Objects Near a Window, Paris, 2007
Gelatin silver print mounted to board
27 1/2 x 22 5/8 inches

Night in a Small Town, New Mexico, 2007 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 16 x 20 inchesNight in a Small Town, New Mexico, 2007 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 16 x 20 inches

Night in a Small Town, New Mexico, 2007
Gelatin silver print mounted to board
16 x 20 inches

Night in a Small Town, New Mexico (study #2), 2008 Unique polaroid 3 1/2 X 4 1/2 inchesNight in a Small Town, New Mexico (study #2), 2008 Unique polaroid 3 1/2 X 4 1/2 inches

Night in a Small Town, New Mexico (study #2), 2008
Unique polaroid
3 1/2 X 4 1/2 inches

Apollo and Pilate's Wife, Bogota (study), 2008 Ink on graph paper 8 1/4 x 11 1/4 inchesApollo and Pilate's Wife, Bogota (study), 2008 Ink on graph paper 8 1/4 x 11 1/4 inches

Apollo and Pilate's Wife, Bogota (study), 2008
Ink on graph paper
8 1/4 x 11 1/4 inches

Apollo and Pilate's Wife, Bogota, 2008 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 28 1/2 x 37 1/4 inchesApollo and Pilate's Wife, Bogota, 2008 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 28 1/2 x 37 1/4 inches

Apollo and Pilate's Wife, Bogota, 2008
Gelatin silver print mounted to board
28 1/2 x 37 1/4 inches

Portrait as a Vanite, 1994 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 36 1/2 x 30 inchesPortrait as a Vanite, 1994 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 36 1/2 x 30 inches

Portrait as a Vanite, 1994
Gelatin silver print mounted to board
36 1/2 x 30 inches

Woman once a bird, Los Angeles, 1990 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 36 1/2 x 28 3/4 inchesWoman once a bird, Los Angeles, 1990 Gelatin silver print mounted to board 36 1/2 x 28 3/4 inches

Woman once a bird, Los Angeles, 1990
Gelatin silver print mounted to board
36 1/2 x 28 3/4 inches

Press Release

Bruce Silverstein Gallery is pleased to announce Poetic Realism, an exhibition of new works along with their preliminary sketches from photographer Joel-Peter Witkin.

 

At first glance, the artistry of Witkin’s tableaux seems more painterly than their actual photographic manifestations. From their conception as preparatory sketches to their completion as ornate constructions, Witkin’s reference of art history’s traditional iconography serves as a backdrop to his subjects as well as a basis to his ideas. However, it is Witkin’s chosen subject matter and his benevolent treatment thereof, which further cement the discrepancy between his work and that of accepted photographic representation - utilizing the camera’s assumed truth to accentuate the sensational transformation
of his subjects. 

 

Witkin’s ongoing fascination with mortal sublimation draws him towards his “sitters” who in turn shed light upon the extremities of physical morbidity, deformation, and destruction. It is the context in which his subjects are carefully placed which enforces our own reconsideration of suffering and the misshapen. To this end, Witkin’s work questions not only the limits of photography’s representation of the real, but our understanding of the very real notion of the malformed and our own inevitable deaths as well.

 

 

Beyond the work’s confrontation of the cadaverous, Witkin’s images beg the question of their own origin. What might remain from the artist’s past that brings him to his subject today, compelling him to work so consistently with those that exist beyond the fringe of normality? There is the often-recounted story of the artist’s witnessing of a horrific car accident and the resulting death of a young girl in front of his childhood home, as well as his early experiences photographing source material in carnival sideshows on behalf of his brother, a painter. However, despite the moments that poignantly mark the artist’s youth, it is their resulting web of thought, emotion, and instinct to which his work’s ornate response and rare understanding can be attributed. We shall never be privy to the inner depths of Witkin’s unconscious mind, but as we can see from our own dramatic response to his works, there exists a powerful approach to life’s most riveting themes; beauty and death.

 

Joel Peter Witkin’s work has been exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada, the Guggenheim Bilbao, the Moscow House of Photography, the Museum of Contemporary Photography Chicago, ARCO Madrid, the Israel Museum, and the Whitney Museum among others. His work is included in numerous public and private collections including; the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the George Eastman House, the Getty Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The artist currently lives and works in Albuquerque, New Mexico.