Henry Horenstein - New Bedford Whaling Museum

Henry Horenstein

Organized as a component of the NBWM exhibition and oral history initiative, Common Ground: Community Stories, this exhibition presents an intimate and photographically compelling look at life in the SouthCoast in the early 1970s.

Henry Horenstein

Upper Level Galleries

Opened: June 9, 2022

Closing: December 18, 2022

CAPTION: (above) Self Portrait with Family, Dartmouth, 1972 

Exhibition Opening and Reception

Thursday, June 9th
5:00 - 6:00pm

Join artist, Henry Horenstein, and New Bedford Whaling Museum Chief Curator, Naomi Slipp, as they discuss the photography in this series of works, which Horenstein calls "a portrait of a unique place and time. A history." Meet the artist and enjoy light refreshments.

Horenstein characterizes this series as “a portrait of a unique place and time. A history.”

Between 1970-77, Henry Horenstein took medium format photographs of his family, neighbors and friends – first, in the SouthCoast areas of New Bedford and Dartmouth and, later, in Greater Boston, where his parents moved. Organized as a component of the NBWM exhibition and oral history initiative, Common Ground: Community Stories, “Close Relations” presents an intimate and photographically compelling look at life in the SouthCoast in the early 1970s. Horenstein characterizes this series as “a portrait of a unique place and time. A history.” 

In this body of work, Horenstein adopts a snapshot aesthetic that was in widespread use by artists of the contemporaneous “New Documents Movement,” including Lee Friedlander, Diane Arbus, and Garry Winogrand, among many others. As MoMA curator John Szarkowski explained in 1967, this generation of photographers “redirected the technique and aesthetic of documentary photography to more personal ends. Their aim has been not to reform life but to know it.” Szarkowski would later describe how photography fell into two camps: mirrors and windows, writing: “The distance between them is to be measured not in terms of the relative force or originality of their work, but in terms of their conceptions of what a photograph is: is it a mirror, reflecting a portrait of the artist who made it, or a window, through which one might better know the world?” Horenstein’s works are both: mirrors, which reflect a portrait of the artist in this era of his life, but also of a community, a time, and a place, and as windows allowing visitors an intimate glimpse into this period. 

About the Artist
New Bedford native, Henry Horenstein, is a professional photographer, filmmaker, and teacher, who studied at RISD in the 1970s under Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, and Minor White. A longtime professor of photography at RISD, Horenstein’s works are held in major museum collections and he is also the author of over 30 books.