Joel-Peter Witkin


Joel-Peter Witkin (b. 1939) is an American photographer known for his distinctive and  macabre images in black and white. 

Witkin, fascinated by the grotesque, creates scenes of characters and concepts from the margins of society. Allusions to political, historical and cultural references are abundant, while Witkin's simultaneously confronts topics of death, decay and decadence. 

"Feast of Fools" is a haunting and evocative still life from Witkin's oeuvre, conveying a chilling sense of grim premonition. Is this Witkin's more sinister version of a vanitas painting? 

Among the abundant fruits and vegetables, Witkin has placed dismembered hands, feet, and the autopsied corpse of an infant. Shockingly these are not horror movie props, but all garnered from a morgue in Mexico City where he arranged and then photographed this composition. 

Witkin's work is influenced by Italian Renaissance paintings, early Daguerreotypes, and especially carnival photography. His darkroom process is intentionally disruptive and experimental; Witkin will interfere with the chemicals while printing, scratching negatives, and tamper with the toner.

Witkin has been influential on a wide variety of artists from Diane Arbus to Alexander McQueen to Andreas Serrano. 

Today, his works can be found in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. 

Questions about this piece? Contact us or call +1.416.704.1720

Mexico City, 1991

From an edition of 25

Signed, title and numbered in pencil on verso


From the Portfolio II by Photographers + Friends United Against AIDS, 1998

20"H 23.4"W (sheet)

21"H 24.4"W (framed)

Very good condition

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