Uploaded on Nov 3, 2010
Christian Ryder Witkin was born in Manchester, England in 1966 to a Dutch mother and an American father, painter Jerome Witkin. They lived in various European and American cities until 1972 when after his parents' divorce, Christian moved to Amsterdam with his mother until 1984. At 17 he returned to the States to live with his father and began a full-time study of photography at Syracuse University. His academic career ended after his first trip to New York City in 1987. After interning for the summer, Christian made the decision to move to New York City and assist full time, working for such noted photographers as Peter Lindbergh, Bruce Weber, and Annie Leibovitz.
After assisting for four and half years, in 1993, Christian launched his independent career receiving instant recognition as an important voice in the photographic community and the art world. His work immediately began to bring him critical and editorial acclaim. Major campaigns and awards followed.
With a noted artistic father and uncle, Christian grew up exposed to the cutting edge of visual expression, allowing for his visual development as an artist to begin at an early age. Christian's continuing desire to deconstruct his world to its most basic parts has much to do with his search for truth. He strips things down of all artifice until what is before you is the pure essence of the subject; it is not always pretty but in the end it is honest. He aims to explore the strange and dark places of the human psyche.
His subject choices are atypical; his aesthetic harkens more to the streetwise Diane Arbus and anthropological August Sander.
He has a ceaseless and constant desire to explore the unknown and eliminate boundaries. Christian's work remains an iconic contemporary exploration of the human condition.
His current projects include the massive sixteen-year study of India, Women, Ethiopia, and his long-awaited Thai Ladyboy project.
Christian's work appears in major magazines from New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Vibe, ID, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, and W magazine. His work has been used to create landmark campaigns for IBM, Nike, Levi's, AMEX, Calvin Klein, Timex, RED, and the Gap.
Video by Sam Friedman
Audio by Sam Friedman
all images © Christian Witkin 2010
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