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Joel Witkin claims that his unique visual sensibilities began to come about when, as a small child, he witnessed a terrible car accident in front of his home, in which a little girl was decapitated. He recalls her head rolling to his feet, her dead eyes staring upward. This was the chilling feeling and mood he tries to convey in each of his works.



Joel-Peter Witkin was born on Sept, 13, 1939, in Brooklyn, N.Y. His father was Jewish and his mother was Roman Catholic. His parents were unable to transcend their religious differences and the two divorced when Witkin was young, the boy remaining with his mother. He attended grammar school at Saint Cecelia's in Brooklyn, and went on to Grover Cleveland High School. He also cites family difficulties as an inspiration for his work.













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