Joel Peter-Witkin: classic or dud

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Empty cartoon-transgressive crap or brilliant art?

I found a book where he writes quarter-page statements/essays comparing one of his photos to another photo that (supposedly) influenced it. I find, as I work through it that I have less and less respect for him.

I find his lack of respect and caring for some of his models (the Mexican satyr, all the dead bodies) repugnant - which I think his defenders would say is the point. But I find all his reasons lacking when the reality is that he's using stolen bodies to sell pieces for tens of thousands of dollars to yuppie-dom.

The various pseudo-mystic 'I am creating God in me'-type pronouncements just make it worse.

At the same time, his visual imagination has to be respected, though he's kind of found his niche or gimmick (depending on your opinion) and rarely deviates from it.

Erick Dampier is better than Shaq (miloaukerman), Sunday, 5 February 2006 21:37 (fifteen years ago) link

Technically classic, but I can't help but hold him responsible for inspiring a lot of extremely dud music videos in his wake.

My favorite work he's done was for a Mutter Museum calendar - think this was in 1993 or 1994.

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Sunday, 5 February 2006 21:56 (fifteen years ago) link

elvis on the money. and i can't say that i have even paid any attention to him since the 80's. WHEN ME AND KAREN FINLEY AND DENNIS COOPER AND KATHY ACKER WOULD ALL GET TOGETHER AT RICHARD KIRN'S HOUSE TO SMOKE BONGHITS OUT OF LUNG LEG'S ARMPIT. but, yeah, his stuff always looked very impressive in that old-tymey way of his.

scott seward (scott seward), Sunday, 5 February 2006 22:04 (fifteen years ago) link


I find his work very sad, and I don't mean that as a condemnation.

patrick bateman (mickeygraft), Sunday, 5 February 2006 22:14 (fifteen years ago) link

I love his work, and have never read any of his statements. Who cares what artists say about their work, anyway? They should just shut up—talk in general terms about art-making if they want, but their own pieces have to stand on their own without the crutch of manifesto.

Beth Parker (Beth Parker), Monday, 6 February 2006 00:33 (fifteen years ago) link

I feel like if there was a sort of Renaissance grotesque spirit to it, that'd be neat, but instead it comes off as so deadly serious.. ugh

dar1a g (daria g), Monday, 6 February 2006 04:51 (fifteen years ago) link

Oddly enough, EVERYBODY on this thread OTM.

Forksclovetofu (Forksclovetofu), Monday, 6 February 2006 06:46 (fifteen years ago) link

fifteen years pass...

This was very good:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe5b5vPxxcY

Elvis Telecom, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 19:37 (one week ago) link

The art historian (who is shown modeling for Joel in the movie) had this to say in a 2018 blog post

During the Q&A, in response to his future plans, Joel said something about being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, in an anecdote that I couldn’t completely understand. I thought about how, when he talked about not recalling where he had been and what he had done on his travels, he sounded as if he no connection to his exeriences. His dismissal of what he couldn’t remember seemed more poignant than absent-mindedness, as if such events had completely escaped him. An email from Trisha arrived after we were home, stating that Joel had changed even in the month since she last saw him, and that on Sunday, he had no recollection of the film screening nor any of the questions from the day before. She also wrote that she really appreciated what I said about working with her and with Joel and that he would not make any more photographs. I was sad, touched and glad that I had the chance to see him and to speak for his work. Trisha’s comments meant a lot to me. Joel and his work should always be thought of well.

Elvis Telecom, Wednesday, 13 October 2021 19:40 (one week ago) link


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