Friday, July 25, 2008

Magnificent Magnatismia


by Henry Horenstein
Pond Press (June 30, 2008)
80 pages/hardcover/64 duotone photographs/$40.00

Reviewed by Jain Lemos

Professor Henry Horenstein remixes his acclaimed photographs of land and sea creatures, adding 35 unpublished images, into his latest book, Animalia. His parade of subjects in sepia marches with pride and precision though the lens and into the mind’s eye. As an artist, Horenstein connects humans to animals through emotional macro studies. As a scientist, he patiently waits to press the shutter on an unsuspecting world.

Photographed primarily from 1995 through 2001, Horenstein used captivity as his studio and laboratory, visiting zoos and aquariums rather than making solitary excursions into the wild. This environment provided him with a special auditory dimension as he worked. Comments from visitors such as, “Poor thing, she’s bored,” or “Doesn’t that monkey look like Uncle Ike?” spurred him on, proving that animals can be photographed to convey their own personalities.

The pacing of Animalia’s 64 duotones is steady yet relaxed. The animals appear in sharp focus, select focus, soft focus, then softer and back to crispy. Some of the pairings on spreads with left and right plates are clever. A dead mouse’s tail is within the grasp of a newt’s outstretched arm on the opposite page; a pig’s snout sniffs the smooth nose of a whale; the curled fingers of a monkey mimic the hooked claws of a bat. Assembled, the book has depth in every category of photography and design study.

Animalia is accompanying a traveling exhibition through the Harvard Museum of Natural History assuring large audiences and accolades for this master photographer and teacher. Don’t miss Horenstein’s extraordinary work in any accessible format.

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