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Section I Beginnings Joel-Peter Witkin was born on September 13 1939 along with his twin brother Jerome in Brooklyn New York Artistry seems to run through the veins of these brothers as Joel-Peter is a highly acclaimed photographer and his twin Jerome is a well-known painter Witkins father was Jewish and his mother was Roman-Catholic Their religious differences caused a huge strain on the marriage Witkins parents filed for divorce while the twins were still young Witkin and his brother continued living with their mother and attended Catholic schooling Joel-Peter served in the army from 1961-1964 and then continued his education in college He earned a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts at Cooper Union He then received a fellowship in poetry at Columbia University Joel-Peter Witkin often tells an autobiographical story that explains the bloody birth of his artistic destiny At the age of six he witnessed a traumatic event that changed his life forever As he walked with his mother and brother from their home in Brooklyn toward the street he heard a loud noise A fatal three-car accident took place right in front of his eyes He somehow lost grip of his mothers hand and stopped at the curb Something rolled from one of the cars toward where he was standing When he looked down at the street he realized it was a little girls head He bent down to touch it and to ask the little girl a question but someone picked him up and carried him away before he got a chance In other versions he has told of the story he picked the head up off the ground and held it to his eye like a camera Woodward Witkins active interest in photography began at the young age of sixteen Even though he was merely a teenager Edward Steichen chose one of his photographs to be placed in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in
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