Following its latest unexpected team-up with Yohji Yamamoto, Supreme has now returned to reveal its collaboration with Joel-Peter Witkin. Accompany this week’s Fall/Winter 2020 Week 5 Drop, the collaboration is centered around the American artist’s evocative imagery that disrupts conventional notions of mortality, desire and spirituality.
Drawing from early photographic history and Daguerreotype techniques, religion, and painting ranging from Caravaggio and Giotto to Picasso and Balthus, Witkin has created a career around developing elaborate, surreal scenes that feature people often relegated to society’s margins, as well as cadavers and dismembered limbs.
Born 1939 in Brooklyn, Witkin’s dark sensibilities are largely attributed to his childhood, more specifically, a fatal car accident that he witnessed at a young age in which a girl was decapitated. During his formative years in the mid-1950s, Witkin collected news clippings about outcasts and illnesses and documented Coney Island sideshow performers. After serving as a photographer in the Vietnam War in the ’60s, he was honorably discharged and became the official photographer for “City Walls, NYC”; an organization that produced murals throughout the five boroughs. Aside from studying sculpture at Cooper Union in 1974, Witkin was granted a fellowship in poetry from Columbia University. Moving to New Mexico in 1976, the artist then earned an MFA in photography from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where he currently lives and works.
Utilizing a variety of techniques – piercing and scratching negatives, and experimental techniques during the printing process – Witkin focuses on eroticizing deformity and the macabre. His transgressive images serve to challenge perceptions of beauty, noting his work, “reflects the insanity of life.”
Comprised of a hoodie and two T-shirts, Supreme’s latest collaborative release features three of Joel-Peter Witkin’s images: Mother and Child (With Retractor, Screaming), Harvest, and Sanitarium, which inspired Alexander McQueen’s iconic 2001 “Asylum” presentation.
The Supreme x Joel-Peter Witkin FW20 collection will see a global release, available via the streetwear imprint’s website on September 24 in the United States and September 26 in Japan.
For more contemporary fashion, PLEASURES is “Metaphorically Speaking” with its FW20 collection.