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Joel-Peter Witkin: A Retrospective Hardcover – October, 1995

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scalo Publishers; 1st Scalo Ed edition (October 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1881616207
  • ISBN-13: 978-1881616207
  • Product Dimensions: 11.8 x 8.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #938,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

At the age of 6, Joel-Peter Witkin witnessed an automobile accident in which a little girl was decapitated, her head rolling to a stop at his feet. This experience may have had a bearing on his lifelong obsession with the macabre, but does little to prepare the viewer for his bizarre photographs of hermaphrodites and other human grotesqueries. Imagine the fruits of a collaboration between Diane Arbus and Federico Fellini that might be rejected for being a little too extreme. Imagine what Larry Flynt might publish for residents of the Twilight Zone. Two of the milder images: the disembodied, almost skeletal heads of two gnarled old men locked in an intimate kiss; and an obese woman in a cone-shaped mask, breast-feeding an eel.

From Library Journal

Best-known for his intricate tableaux blending the sublime and the grotesque, Witkin here presents both the early, relatively simple portraits, heavily marked and altered in processing, as well as the recent allegories, which could be called pristine but for their provocative content. This chronological presentation of more than 100 works from a 20-year period allows the reader both to survey the path of that evolution and to recognize the recurring subjects of his shifting style. The themes of heaven and hell, suffering, beauty, and motherhood are as constant as his portrayal of mutilated and malformed flesh, masks, and the thorns and grapes that refer to Christianity and pagan myth. Brought out to accompany a retrospective that opens next month at New York's Guggenheim Museum, this catalog also contains a comprehensive dissection of Witkin's work by the show's curator and publishes Witkin's 1976 manifesto, "Revolt Against the Mystical." For all libraries with works on contemporary photography.?Eric Bryant, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Em on July 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Witkin is an extremely original and spiritual artist who never strays from his own personal vision. He also comes recommended by the best: Clive Barker is a fan and Nine Inch Nails made a music video based on his work. His work is often imitated but his unique style which blends the freakshow, the gothic and the baroque with imagery of death and religion, can never be matched. Witkins photographs are often horrific and deeply bizarre but are always beautiful. This book contains the best quality reproductions of a great number of Witkin's photographs that I have ever seen, as well as lengthy and informative essays. I highly recommend it for initiated fans of Witkin or as an introduction to his work.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Be forewarned: Witkin's photographic art is wholly unique and strange and bizarre and macabre.....and wondrous. How often do we really have the courage to face our nightmare demons, real or imagined? Here is an artist who has devoted his life to addressing the dark side of our minds. Yes, these are photographs of "freaks" manipulated to states beyond which even they can go. Some people are put off by these images, finding them cruel and disgusting. But why do these same people pack the theatres and movie houses that continue to grind out rehashed Dracula, Frankenstein, Phantoms of the Opera, and other creatures from the black lagoon of invention? Perhaps the fact that these are photographs and not drawings or paintings makes them fall into the realm of possible rather than make-believe. But here they are, like a sideshow, with incredible presence, lighting, theatrics, and pain. For the unafraid, Witkin's photographs are beautiful. And so is this volume!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Duncan Wong on January 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I appreciate Joel Peter Witkin's photos for a few years, before I can actually own this book finally. This book makes my experience complete.
A comprehensive collection of Joel-Peter Witkin's work, which belongs to the dark side of human. The careful composition of human body, objects and background, sometimes with cross-reference to classical paintings, invites a surreal, poetic, and miserable feeling.
If you only think that his photos are terrible, you need more time and more patience to read his images, through understanding. Extract from what Witkin said - 'When people see my work, there is no 'grey area' of response. What they experience is either love or hate.'
For all photography books I have ever read, this one is the most visual impacting ! Joel Peter Witkin's work is inspiring, original, and creative.
Very highly recommended, if you want to look into our human side.
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