0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
witkin, Jan 24, 2023
this Witkin book is an ecxellent illustration of his work. A wonderful collection of macabre. high quality images.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Brilliant., Oct 30, 2022
Joel-Peter Witkin, The Bone House (Twin Palms, 2000)
Witkin is best known outside the world of avant-garde art for being one of those whose work was scrutinized during the whole "art or pedophilia?" craze that followed the hullabaloo surrounding Robert Mapplethorpe getting an NEA grant (not that those two things are related, except in the diseased minds of those who decided that all "deviance" is necessarily related.) Which is too bad, because Witkin creates photographs of a singularly disturbing atmosphere, a combination of beauty and brutality perhaps last imagined by Bosch and Bruegel hundreds of years ago.
Witkin is (and he admits this readily in his introduction to this collection) thoroughly obsessed with death, mutilation, violence, the erotic, and how they all intertwine. His photographs, which he calls portraits, do not capture the portrait per se but what Witkin sees as the true soul, the symbol of the person or people involved; the photographic equivalent of Bacon's famous study of Velasquez' Pope Innocent X. His photos are not for the faint of heart, but it seems to me that even the most squeamish will find a rare attractive power in Witkin's work. I strongly suggest, however, that the more squeamish not read the end essay (which starts with a description of how Witkin composed and photographed the photo "Feast of Fools," a description which may cause even less sensitive stomachs to roll).
These photographs are disturbing, repulsive, above all beautiful; one thinks, though, it would take a truly diseased mind to find anything of the pedophilic in the photographs presented here. With all the many layers to be studied in these compositions, it seems like the work of a revisionist historian, or someone with the Jesse Helms "I don't know how to define pornography, but I know it when I see it" mentality, to overlay something onto them that simplifies and erroneously categorizes them. We see what's there through our own filters; photography, especially of this sort, is interpreted by what we bring to the table ourselves. Those who crow most loudly about such things in the future may want to remember this. "Do not gaze long into the abyss..." **** ½
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Witkin is a mad genius, Jul 26, 2023
Although I had seen some of Witkin's photos on the internet before purchasing this book, I was still shocked when I looked at them again in this beautiful book. Witkin's works are powerful because nobody else had done a similar thing before. His photos show deformed human beings, corpses, body parts and dead animals, in a harmony way. That's where the shock comes from: how can such objects be composed to a beautiful image? The discomfort is created when your eyes are telling your brain Witkin's photos are beautiful while your brain is telling you his photos are horrible! I highly recommand this book to the people who are willing to open their minds and admire the works by this mad genius!
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful:
The Magical Image, Feb 17, 2023
Aptly named, THE BONE HOUSE is a collection of Witkin's images covering the period from 1950 to 1998. Witkin himself made the selection of his images. This is the first time I have seen some of these photographs, but many others are drawn from Witkin's better known images. The collection is remarkable.
Witkin is not an easy photographer/artist to get next to. He uses death, morbidity, deformity and sexual diversity to continually push at aesthetic boundaries. His work changes the viewer in it's search for beauty among the artifacts of the grotesque.
Yet it is not Witkin's intent to shock. Few viewers realize the amount of planning and control that goes into these images. Witken's own writings often depict himself as an aesthetic primitive or pagan, but this is far from the truth. This volume, and the Celant collaboration with Witkin contain preliminary sketches that are worth the price of admission. The artist's unearthly compositions, often composed with human and animal fragments are often drawn from images that come to us from the 16th and 17th century.
The book itself is beautifully bound and printed. Twin Palms has done their best to capture the quality of the Witkin prints. Unfortunately, this is a hopeless task. He tears, scratches, paints and waxes a print until it is far more than a simple photographic print. But the reproduction in the book is as good as I've seen.
I'm one of the fortunate few where was able to by the edition with the signed etching at it's earlier, pre-issue price. Now that edition is quite dear. If you can afford it, the etching is delightful, and well worth the expense. If not, there is also a less expensive, unsigned version, now in it's second printing, for considerably less.
This is unnerving, thoughtful photography. Consider this:
"I have consecrated my life to changing matter into spirit in the hope of someday seeing it all. Seeing its total form, while wearing the mask, from the distance of death. And there, in the eternal destiny, to seek the face I had before the world was made." (Joel-Peter Witkin)
8 of 20 people found the following review helpful:
An extraordinary book from an extraordinary artist, Sep 17, 2023
This book is fantastic as far as photo books go. There is a important quality attached to having good reproductions in a printed book. The Bone House has some of the best reproductions of the original prints availiable, aside from appropriate information about the author and artist himself.