Cabinet of contemporary art curiosities

A gothic twist on the Victorian photograph

contemporary art curiosities: Joel Peter Witkin
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Joel-Peter Witkin

Veteran US photographer Joel-Peter Witkin's darkly disturbing images not only emulate 19th century techniques and aesthetics, they also draw heavily on Victorian obsessions with the macabre, the supernatural and the 'misfit'.

Witkin focuses on marginalised members of society such as transexuals, midgets, hermaphrodites or those with physical disabilities.

Many of his works also depict corpses or body parts, although photographic manipulation sometimes takes place.

Partly due to these interests, as well as criticism concerning what many regard as the exploitation of his subjects, Witkin hovers on the edge of the fine art mainstream.

Few, however, are as capable of conveying such a genuinely spooky sense of the grotesque, and Witkins' work has proved highly influential on many younger artists.

 

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