I have attempted to stay out of this thread but I have decided that I cannot keep myself out any longer.
For me, art can shock. It can shock to change one's perception, but it must change one's perception. Witkin, as I see it, is only interested in shocking and not changing the viewers perceptions. This, for me does not meet the smell test of "Is It Art". I don't like that in your face approach to art. Witkin offends me and I refuse to look at it at all.
the early guys di Vinci and the like did what they did to advance the understanding of the human being so that they could draw people better and more acurately. What they did elevates their drawings to art. Plus, this was a long time ago. Basically, in the dark ages.
Weegee was a paparazzi. His work did not gain real art standards until well after his death. He was a pretty crude guy and I thnik that also influenced his photography.
The estemed photographer said something to me in an email several years ago. It is something his ex-wife told him about art. I will have to paraphrase but i is something like this: "Art is about ideas and Illustraion is about things". I think that pretty well sums it up for me.