Joel-Peter Witkin

“Madonnas” make us feel the light of bruised and hurt bodies of women, captured as deities, in a theatrical scenography, becoming art icons and venered women. The sublimed nudity of women perceives the day in black and white. The shine of a radiant epiderm, embellished by welcoming reflections, reveals luminous divinities, whose presence submerges us. Under the deep shadows of  women masked and envelopped in mysterious nights, the poetic melancholy of death presence appears. Joel-Peter Witkin confronts us to the reality of bodies, of our immemorial fears and anxieties, of our fragility, our weaknesses and even our own faults. Careful, oh, careful… The choice of materials, inducing the contrast of colors, of lights is always at the center of the artist attention, acting then as small ceramic sculptures or larger iron installations. The structure of the artwork is theorised precisely and in a detailed way beforehand. Then, during the elaboration and realisation of the work, materials affirm their interiority and freedom. Thus establishing this practical alchemy. To the rough texture of the first material, sensitivity and delicacy of the artist come through the surface of the work.

Born in 1939 in Brooklyn, New York

Lives and works in Albuquerque, New Mexico (ISA)

Public Collection

  • Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, FR
  • Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, FR
  • Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris, FR
  • Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, FR
  • Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Strasbourg, FR
  • Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
  • Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, ES
  • Museo d’arte contemporanea Castello di Rivoli, Turin, IT
  • Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, NL
  • Museo de Arte Abstracto Español, Cuenca, ES
  • The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
  • Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, JP
  • Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH, USA
  • Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH, USA
  • Columbia College, Chicago, USA
  • George Eastman House, Rochester, NY, USA
  • High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, USA
  • Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO, USA
  • Library of Congress, USA
  • Los Angeles County Moseum of Art (LACMA), CA, USA
  • Moderna Museet, Stockholm, SE
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA
  • Musée des Beaux-Arts du Nouveau-Mexique, Santa Fe, NM, USA
  • National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C., USA
  • National Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • National Museum, Bogota, CO
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA, USA
  • Princeton Art Museum, Princeton, NJ, USA
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA, USA
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, CA, USA
  • The Kinsey Institute, Bloomington, IN, USA
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA
  • The Museum of Fine Art, Houston, TX, USA
  • The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, NY, USA
  • The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., USA
  • Center for Creative Photography – University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
  • The Whitney Museum, New York, NY, USA
  • Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA
  • Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA, USA