Monkey see, monkey do

By CHRISTOPHER MILLIS  |  September 12, 2006

Henry Horenstein is among the last unflinching Romantics working in photography, and his inclusion in “Going Ape” is one of the quiet highlights of the show. Ten platinum prints from his 1995-’99 “Aquatics” series grace the second-floor gallery, and as often as I’ve seen them over the years they continue to enchant with their orchestrated marriage of dreaminess and precision. In one, the graceful tail of a beluga whale undulates vertically in cloudy water; in another, the misty face of a harbor seal pokes bashfully into the camera’s focus. In Texas Map Turtle we see the entire creature from its underside as it clamors with its pointed nose to the water’s surface for air. And it’s not just the sepia tones of his images or the measured balance of his compositional style that gives Horenstein’s photos their Old World, 19th-century appeal. His photography is rooted in the medium’s origins: painting. Every detail — air bubble, whisker, play of light — reflects the artist’s engaged decision making. If the emotional range is limited (a good-humored eeriness prevails), candor and harmony and charm still make his work indelible.

‘Going Ape: Confronting Animals In Contemporary Art’ | DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park | 51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln | Through January 7

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