Joel peter witkin - gods of heaven and earth

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FOUDRAL Benjamin
L2 Histoire de l'art et archéologie

Gods of heaven and earth, 1989
by Joel Peter Witkin

The work of Joel Peter Witkin is a photograph in black and white. This work isentitled Gods of heaven and earth and was made in 1989.
In a marine setting, five characters stand out, forming distinct scenes. Standing in the center, stands a naked transsexual with long black hairwith his right hand on the heart. It seems out of the shell St Jacques. To his right are two men embracing, one carrying the other. They are dressed with white drapes and seem to fly towards the centralcharacter. At left is an Asian transsexual person, wearing a tiny white sheet which suggests its nakedness. He wears a sort of cloth adorned with silk sheets, as if to cover the person's center.Finally, regardless of this scene, we see a figure lying down, as if drowned in water, it features a naked man with Christ-like.
The scenario on which people stand seems to piece of theater. It's composedof several materials such as cardboard, tissues, it even seems to be painted by location. The part of the photograph below, where Christ appears scratched to give the impression of water but also themacabre, sublime...

We easily recognize the top is a reinterpretation of Botticelli's Venus, the center is a strange Venus rising from the foam of the sea and leaving a shell of Saint-Jacques. Tohis right, gods of the Zephyr wind blows on the goddess to bring them to the shore under a rain of pink, as can be seen also in the picture. And finally, to his left, when putting their feet on theground, a nymph, one of Hours probably greet it with a purple garment. It could be one of the three Graces, in antiquity, were part of the sequence of the goddess, or one of the three hours, thepersonification of the seasons. But the name of the piece is Gods of heaven and earth. I do not understand very well the link, they are representations of pagan gods and Christ, or else the Christ figure...