Witkin & Witkin: Redemptive Beauty, sheds light on the powerful and enduring artistic bond of Joel-Peter Witkin and Jerome Witkin, identical twin brothers whose complicated and often contradictory religious upbringing inspired each individual to negotiate the interstices of dark and light, good and evil, the sacred and the profane. Despite being largely estranged throughout their 50-year careers, Jerome and Joel-Peter have each created exemplary bodies of work that draw on their shared and exhaustive journey of discovering the sublime in richly complex subject matter and archetypes.
This exhibition shows a dense layering of powerful emotions seen through the allegorical tableaux. Employing different primary mediums (painting for Jerome, and photography for Joel-Peter), each artist’s raw and unflinching treatment of their common themes of religion, mortality, morality, and the physical and metaphysical body, prove the deep and unbroken connection between these two brothers, as well as their symmetrical artistic virtuosity. As psychologically charged as it is existentially questioning, Jerome and Joel-Peter’s work explores the immense beauty that can be mined from darkness, where Jerome, through his modernist genre painting, and Joel-Peter, through a satirical and forensic camera lens, deliver a cinematic tour de force of the human experience.
This exhibition is composed of 119 pieces spanning more than three decades, and will include both artists’ most recent works. Iconic photographs by Joel-Peter Witkin include “Olympia” 1974, and “Las Meninas” 1987, among his small– and large–scale works. Jerome Witkin’s masterful large painting “The German Girl” 1997 will be among his important pieces shown in this exhibition, joined by two monumental early drawings of the mid-’80s, ruminating on a mythologized Van Gogh and his most recent paintings reflecting on Van Gogh as archetype.
Joel-Peter Witkin is renowned as the creator of elaborately staged and often erotically charged scenes exploring grand themes of religion, sex and mortality. His provocative, sometimes abject, imagery is frequently populated by social outcasts, dwarves, persons with extraordinary physical attributes and deformities, hermaphrodites, and other ‘outsiders,’ and created a sensation as early as the 1980s, and particularly in museum exhibitions in the early ‘80s at the Stedelijk in Amsterdam and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Jerome Witkin has been drawn to paint since childhood. The recipient of many prizes, including two Ford Foundation Grants, a Guggenheim, and a Pulitzer Fellowship, his masterful draftsmanship and virtuoso painting have elicited a cult following among his fellow artists. He has been the subject of myriad exhibitions, most recently a touring museum retrospective originating in 2011, celebrating his forty years at Syracuse University. His paintings, often on a grand scale, have been cited by many as being among the great narratives in contemporary art, dealing with apocryphal events such as the Holocaust and 9/11. Critically, Jerome Witkin has been likened to Lucien Freud, Manet, Ingres, and Goya for both his technical mastery and psychological insight.
NUMBER OF WORKS
(paintings, drawings, gelatin silver prints, mixed media)
Approximately 500 linear feet (152.4 linear meters)
Jerome Witkin & Joel-Peter Witkin: Twin Visions.
(Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles: 2015)
Witkin & Witkin: Joel-Peter Witkin & Jerome Witkin.
(Trilce Ediciones, Escandon, Mexico: 2016)
Joel-Peter Witkin, Poussin in Hell, 1999
Jerome Witkin, An Artist in a Ruin, 1990
Joel-Peter Witkin, The Fool, Budapest, 1993
Jerome Witkin, New York Movie, 1945, 2013 – 2015
Joel-Peter Witkin, Marriage, Bogotá, 2009
Jerome Witkin, Bride-Noir, 2011
Joel-Peter Witkin, Vienna Eye Phantom, Philadelphia, 1990
Jerome Witkin, Vincent's Silvery Hands, 2012 - 2013
Joel-Peter Witkin, Woman Masturbating on the Moon, 1982
Jerome Witkin, First Study for Panel II – After Division Street, 2015
Joel-Peter Witkin, Un Santo Oscuro, New Mexico, 1980
Jerome Witkin, Looking: Bob Bersani in the Studio, 2006