“WITKIN & WITKIN”— Twin Artist Brothers


Twin Artist Brothers

Amos Lassen

“Witkin & Witkin” explores the artistic achievements of identical twin brothers Jerome and Joel-Peter  Witkin. Jerome is a painter, Joel-Peter a photographer and each is a noted figure in his field. They grew up in great physical and emotional proximity but now they speak and live a significant distance apart, the one in upstate New York, the other in New Mexico.

Recently, they have begun to exhibit together. The film follows each sibling on his own and also takes us to Mexico City for their first joint international show, where the Witkins are surprised to see, that they share certain themes in their work. Director Trisha Ziff tells the story of each brother’s journey from twin to individual, how and why they grew apart as we learn what their creative expression means to them and to the world.

Jerome is a mostly figurative artist who often tackles socio-political subjects in his paintings; Joel-Peter analyzes similar topics, but does through surrealist tableaux where models wear costumes while frozen in provocative poses. Their falling-out seems to be based, at least in part, on the fact that Jerome blossomed early as a painter and was seen as a genius right away, while Joel-Peter had to find his own way. Jerome is an introspective introvert while Joel-Peter is an extrovert. This perhaps explains their differences.

We learn about their lives. Both have suffered losses Jerome lost a son, Joel-Peter lost a wife  and now they are almost 80. Each twin is unorthodox and unique in his own way and their story is an intimate portrait of their relationship— a meditation on art and a vivid biographical look at the two men.

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