So, da Vinci and Michelangelo sneaking in to cut apart corpses showed respect? Did the desire to learn make it any less of a disrespect to the dead? Their relatives?
No, as I said two wrongs do not make a right.
You say that their actions are justified by what they accomplished. At the time they would have been killed had anybody found out what they were doing. Michelangelo created scandals by sculpting and painting nudes.
I did not say they were justifiable, only understandable. To the point they risked their lives. What did Witkin risk?...a few bucks.
I think the motivation is different. While Michelangelo and DaVinci had a genuine curiosity, Witkin shows us the basic purient curiosity we all have when we see these parts and mishapen bodies. He tries to say he is showing us the the darker part of us, but I dont buy it. I was exposed to his work back in 96 and after the shock wore of....well I never gave the guy a second thought until now. He has been called a genious and a visionary by some, when I heard this I asked myself why? and I could not come up with an answer, what he has done is nothing more that what many people did back in the 19th century by showing "freaks" in circuses, and the reactions are exactly the same, base curiosity, shock, shame in us for being curious, and then...well people went home and forgot about it.
Although as you said Michelangelo created scandals and the pope asked the figures to be covered, he in essence recognized the beauty of the work and did not have it removed. besides Michelangelo also produced many other pieces with great beauty which were not controversial. Witkin's work is repetitive and concerned with only one thing, to cause shock.
As to how history will judge, well now that you have been exposed to Witkin's work, I bet the next time you hear of him you will say.."yeah I have seen his work", while if by some miracle someone found AA prints never before seen I would think you at least would be curious and want to see them, even though I am sure you have also seen his work. At least that is my reaction, someone tells me there is a new Witkin exhibition my reaction is.....so?
As I said is one thing to keep an open mind and give those artists who push the boundaries of good taste and socitie's moral bounds their freedom and space to express their ideas through their art, it is another to condone the desecration of bodies in the name of "art" and beacuse the "masters" did it before. As I said, two wrongs do not make a right!