May 17, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT


Current Status
In Season
Howard Schatz
Coffee Table
We gave it an A-

It’d be difficult to find fault with any collection of photographs documenting the less-than-3-weeks-old set. Still, Newborn‘s pictures are a far cry from Grandma’s snapshots; they’ve got that smooth, coffee-table feeling, with babies suavely nestled into someone’s hairy hand (yup, they’re really that tiny), impassively nursing, or, like Ernst (12 days, bald) and Julia (9 days, grumpy), simply silhouetted against stark, black space — sometimes with the most eerily philosophical expressions on their faces. The finest thing about Howard Schatz, whose last series of portraits was of the homeless, is that he doesn’t shy away from showing how fascinatingly ugly infants can be — how, with their crumpled-up body parts, and pained or rueful countenances, they somehow resemble the very old. The most successful of these pictures include faces: It’s hard to know what to make of Emma (3 days) when all we’re shown is her wrinkled little backside. But guaranteed, on the whole, to produce abject cooing and aahing. A-

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