Joel-Peter Witkin

Official exhibition pavilion A

« When Joel-Peter Witkin meets Picasso » 

In collaboration with the Centre d'art La CHAPELLE and the exhibition
Joel-Peter Witkin, "The Mythologies of gods and men "
Curator : Caroline Lescure
Exhibition from September 14th, 2019 till January 26th, 2020

From the 14th of September 2019 to the 26th January 2020, the Art Center La Chapelle will celebrate the 80 years of Joel-Peter Witkin with an exhibition themed around “the mythologies of gods and men”. With this is in mind we still wanted to further this homage during the fair « Art Elysées », which is the perfect context to highlight the modernity of his work, particularly when brought closer to the likes of Pablo Picasso.


Indeed, Joel-Peter Witkin has often inspired himself from the great masters in his work and often revisited the history of art. Hence why we believe there are interesting points and parallels to be highlighted between his and Picasso’s artistic work. Through a selection of paper works, ceramics and photographs, we will show the echoes of Pablo Picasso’s work present in Joel-Peter Witkin.

As a master of cubism and surrealism, Pablo Picasso often said that he was looking for “resemblance, the most profound resemblance, more real than real, reaching the surreal”.

This very much fits the work of Joel-Peter Witkin. Both artists create their own mythology by incorporating different iconographical sources such as the corrida, deformed bodies, the circus, the minotaur or crucifixion, as to paint the monstrosities of life, the horror of war or the complexity of their personal life. We find in their craft the same obsession with desire, passion and death. Similarly, myths and legends are used and reinterpreted with as much imagination and metaphors. There is in Witkin’s style of drawing and composing a resonance with Picasso’s etchings such as Dans l’atelier, 1963 or l’Etreinte, 1933 as well as the intensity of his paintings. Was there not in Picasso’s works a similar violence of attitude, this art of provocation, the representation of distorted bodies and mythical beasts like the minotaur, associating impulses of life and death? As those themes strongly take hold in some of Witkin’s works we have selected for this fair.

Located on the forestry Rambouillet heights, the Chapelle Art Center is part of the architectural and cultural heritage of the Yvelines department. Entirely dedicated to the cultural and educational creation, this institution integrates exhibition and special events (movies, theater, concerts ...), a place of residence and professional training, a documentation center of art books, as well as a modern and contemporary sculpture park. La Chapelle aims to make the arts dialogue and make them accessible to the greatest number of people through transversal themes such as the current exhibition "Paysages" bringing together photographs, paintings and contemporary installations, as well as more specific ones like the sculptor André Barelier recently, or Joel-Peter Witkin at the beginning of September.


Joel-Peter Witkin, "Mythologies of gods and men"
Exhibition from September 14th, 2019 till January 26th, 2020

Impasse de l’Abbaye
78120 Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines

Press contact : Fabienne Besnard
+33 (01) 42 72 09 10