About the Contributors #10

September 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

A rare look into personal reflections and thoughts through the pages of artists’ journals, sketchbooks and an interview.

The Maxims of Men Disclose Their Hearts
The Journal of Joel-Peter Witkin

French Saying
“The maxims of men
describe their hearts.”
This is true of art
because the heart (and soul)
must grow in love and compassion.
The artist’s vocation is to purify
his heart & soul in order to develop
a personal vision,
to create
a sacred dimension.

I make photographs because it allows me to proclaim in the Light what I’ve perceived in the Darkness of my being. My faith and my photographs are the reasons I live!! I know I’m not going to change the world with what I make. But I want to make work that the viewer perceives as the reproduction of my Soul. That is my criteria and I believe is the reason all great art is made!

We live in a lost and dying world. A great deal of art produced now reflects this-an art of total emptiness, meaninglessness. This “Art” is a denial of the wisdom of the past presented in the unformed, immature
philosophy of “Post Modern” sound bites.

I want to penetrate rather than reproduce reality. Photograph (and print) as though that was the first photograph or print ever made.

Witkin_JournalCloseup2

Sheila Metzner: Fashion

M. Fresson,
Thank you for the fine prints. It is as though you read my mind. They are perfect. I would like to continue to work with you in this way for a while. And I would like to continue to experiment…

The “soft-eye” is transforming. One minute you are “looking,” suddenly you are “seeing” everything changes, dimension, sensation of colors, a kind of objective discrimination begins. Thoughts are magnetized to the vision. Like clouds congregate at the horizon. Reality and vision are one. There is no separation. You are to believe in yourself and what you see. Enraptured until the other reality which you do neither inhabit nor own, outright, calls you back.

BookOfSketches

Imogen Cunningham: Platinum and Palladium

I never photograph ugliness. I am afraid I am a little too aesthetic to be anything but old-fashioned. I agree to that. I let myself be old-fashioned, why shouldn’t I? I have a formula for how to make a good photograph; I think that in order to make a good photograph, you have to be enthusiastic. That is, you have to think about it, like a poet would.

I think everything you do is something of a contribution, unless it’s no good. Then you better hide it. What I like to see about a photograph, is everything smoothly in focus-or if it’s out of focus, for a purpose. And, the quality and gradations of value, rendered, more nearly and accurately in a smaller photograph. I don’t mean tiny, but I mean, not too big. I think still photography has more of an aesthetic appeal, that is the single photograph.

For some people history is a great adventure, for others a great bore. But for me it is overpowering. As far as the history of photography is concerned, I have lived more than half of it. But it still gives me pause.

Cunningham12

About the Contributors #4

July 15, 2015 § Leave a comment

Our first monograph New York, with poems by Walt Whitman. We followed this classic with another, William Blake’s Songs of Experience & Songs of Innocence. And later on the interest in Blake continued with The Prophecies of William Blake, wonderfully paired with Mitch Dobrowner’s storms.


Broadway

BY WALT WHITMAN

WHAT hurrying human tides, or day or night!
What passions, winnings, losses, ardors, swim thy waters!
What whirls of evil, bliss and sorrow, stem thee!
What curious questioning glances-glints of love!
Leer, envy, scorn, contempt, hope, aspiration!
Thou portal-thou arena-thou of the myriad long-drawn lines and groups!
(Could but thy flagstones, curbs, faÇades, tell their inimitable tales;
Thy windows rich, and huge hotels-thy side-walks wide;)
Thou of the endless sliding, mincing, shuffling feet!
Thou, like the parti-colored world itself-like infinite, teeming, mocking life!
Thou visor’d, vast, unspeakable show and lesson!

Metzner6

From the Introduction for
Songs of Innocence and Experience  
BY JOHN WOOD

The Songs of Innocence and of Experience are the most well-known works of William Blake, the greatest mystical writer in the English language. They were his only poems that had even a limited popularity in his lifetime because they were far more accessible than his “prophetic books,” several of which are epic, both in length and in the complexities of his unusual narratives. The majority of the individual Songs are, indeed, quite accessible. Many of them, especially in Innocence, are straightforward, simple even; however, Blake’s notions of innocence and experience are anything but simple…

There was certainly no other artist in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries like William Blake, and there has been no other artist in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries like Joel-Peter Witkin, whose prophetic claims are similar to Blake’s. “Christ is my life,” he has written. “I photograph the living and the dead. My work is a prayer. Photographing makes me the possessor of sanctified and secret wisdom. And for that, I will be judged, not by man-but by God.” Both Blake and Witkin are unique to their own times, yet there is a similarity within their visions because sacred knowledge such as theirs can only come from an intimate dialogue with the boundless, non-corporeal part of the soul.

IncExpTrade

The Little Boy Lost
BY WILLIAM BLAKE

Father, father, where are you going
O do not walk so fast.
Speak, father, speak to your little boy
Or else I shall be lost,

The night was dark no father was there
The child was wet with dew.
The mire was deep, & the child did weep
And away the vapour flew.
The Little Boy Found

The little boy lost in the lonely fen,
Led by the wand’ring light,
Began to cry, but God ever nigh,
Appeared like his father in white.

He kissed the child & by the hand led
And to his mother brought,
Who in sorrow pale, thro’ the lonely dale
Her little boy weeping sought.

MitchDobrowner_withCloseup

from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
BY WILLIAM BLAKE

Rintrah roars & shakes his fires in the burden’d air;
Hungry clouds swag on the deep.

Once meek, and in a perilous path,
The just man kept his course along
The vale of death.
Roses are planted where thorns grow,
And on the barren heath
Sing the honey bees.

Then the perilous path was planted:
And a river and a spring
On every cliff and tomb:
And on the bleached bones
Red clay brought forth.

Till the villain left the paths of ease,
To walk in perilous paths, and drive
The just man into barren climes.

Now the sneaking serpent walks
In mild humility,
And the just man rages in the wilds
Where lions roam.

Rintrah roars & shakes his fires in the burden’d air;
Hungry clouds swag on the deep.

#2/16 from the Publisher: Working with Joel-Peter Witkin

April 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

21st Editions is now celebrating sixteen years of The Art of the Book! In this series of sixteen posts we are sharing with you a chronology of highlights, events and stories from the beginning of our unique publishing endeavor up until now. We hope you enjoy it.

It was 2001 and we had just finished New York, our first Platinum Series title to great success. John Wood and I wanted to include Joel-Peter Witkin in our first anthology, The Journal of Contemporary Photography: Volume I, but he declined. On August 28, 2001, however, I sent Joel a fax proposing Songs of Experience. He faxed us within 15 minutes accepting our offer. Songs of Innocence followed in 2002.

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Many have asked: “What is Joel like?” Having worked with him over the past 13 years now and after having completed four titles with him, I have gotten to know him pretty well. Joel is a religious man, and at the same time very funny too. There were periods when working on our books together that Joel would call weekly just to tell me a joke or two. For example: “What did the 0 say to the 8?…..nice belt.”

What humors me is Joel’s conviction to his jokes and his delivery. He can also be very serious, which is reflected in much of his work. Because many people seem very curious about the man behind the work, I jumped at his offer to publish his journals culminating in The Journal of Joel-Peter Witkin.

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A very interesting story relating to The Journal of Joel-Peter Witkin, is a letter that he received from Christine Grant just weeks before sending me his materials. Joel agreed that the letter should be the introduction:

April 12, 2007

Dear Mr. Witkin,

I could not find your email address or I’d have cluttered that rather than your home mail. I happened upon your work, then read that you had been influenced by an accident you witnessed as a child in New York City in which a girl was decapitated. My father was there that day and saw the same accident and the vision of it did not leave him, either. It had to have been the same accident-I can’t imagine such a thing is a common occurrence. He spoke of seeing the head rolling in the street. He said he could not sleep or eat for weeks after and he had nightmares about it throughout his life.

Indirectly, my sister and I were also influenced by that event. His telling of it brought mortality into our lives much too early. We never had the comfort of believing that only the old died-that death was far away in some indeterminate future. Then and now, we have the weight of time’s limitations on our shoulders. Your work seems to have upset a fair number of people. I am glad for you that you have been able to forge your demons on the anvil of creation. I wish my father had been able to do the same.

Best regards,
Christine Grant

The Journal of Joel-Peter Witkin

July 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

Image
 
THE MAXIMS OF MEN DISCLOSE THEIR HEARTS
“This is true of art
because the heart (and soul)
must grow in love and compassion.
The artist’s vocation is to purify
his heart & soul in order to develop a
personal vision,
to create
a sacred dimension.”
JOEL-PETER WITKIN

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