“These are not in any conventional sense nudes in the often grand and equally often tawdry tradition of photography. They are not scientific or medical, despite the disturbingly clinical close-up viewpoint they take. Finally, they are not abstractions, even though some of the imagery is challenging through the manipulation of focus and cropping. In actuality, there is some truth to Horenstein’s recent work containing aspects of all of the three categories mentioned above, while maintaining an originality all its own.

“There are few contemporary photographers whose works, like Horenstein’s, do not make the human body the object of a cultivation of beauty. The languid, ample female nudes of Irving Penn come to mind in their balance between grace and grotesque. Likewise, the gnarled and drooping flesh of the late John Coplan’s powerful self-portraits that chronicle the ravages of time.

“In his intense and candid examination, Horenstein cannot but invest his works with sexuality. The lack of narrative or objectification, however, removes any sense of eroticism that would compromise his vision. Horenstein’s photographs are aspects of the human body as geography. The more the works defy immediate identification, the more they stimulate our imagination. Through concept, focus, cropping, and exquisite printing, Henry Horenstein transforms the ordinary and seemingly obvious and makes us re-examine the components of what we are.”

—Robert Flynn Johnson, Curator-in-Charge, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco