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 and lived there until 1984. At 17, he returned to the US to live with his father and began a full time study of photography at Syracuse University. In summer of 1988, Christian moved to New York City to assist many noted photographers, such as Bruce Webber, Peter Lindberg and Annie Leibovitz. After 5 years of assisting, in 1993, Christian launched his independent career receiving instant recognition as an important and fresh voice in the photographic and art world communities of early 90's New York. His work immediately gathered critical and editorial acclaim. Major campaigns and awards followed.
With a noted artistic father and uncle, Joel-Peter Witkin, 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 the truth. He strips things down of all artifice until what is before you is the pure essence of the subject. He aims to explore the light and dark places of the human psyche.
His subject choices are atypical; his aesthetic hearkens more to the streetwise Diane Arbus and anthropological August Sander. He has a ceaseless and constant desire to explore the unknown and eliminate boundaries. Humans legitimize his wandering eyes.
His current projects include a massive 20-year study of the people of India; his body of work in Ethiopia spanning 10 years; his work on the Thai Ladyboy; and the newly completed prototype for his first book, "Ordinary Beauty," the culmination of 25 years of portraiture of women.
Christian’s work appears in major magazines such as the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and New York magazine. His work has been used to create landmark campaigns for IBM, Nike, GAP, AMEX, RED, Kodak, Levi’s and, most recently, the Breast Cancer Awareness campaigns (2014 & 2015).
Bachelor of Arts, 1988