Nicholas Nixon: Old Home, New Pictures
September 10–October 24, 2009
32 East 57th Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY
Pace/MacGill Gallery is pleased to present Nicholas Nixon: Old Home, New Pictures, a selection of nearly forty 11 x 14 inch gelatin silver contact prints made in 2008-09. The exhibition marks Nixon’s first solo show at the gallery in over two decades. A monograph of his work is forthcoming from Steidl in Spring 2010; advance copies will be available at the gallery during the exhibition.
Included in this exhibition are contact prints made with a 40-pound, 11 x 14 inch view camera. It is within the potentially unwieldy nature of large format photography that Nixon finds inspiration. Because both negative and positive images are of equal size, the possible loss of visual clarity and tonal depth is minimized. Nixon believes this process to be "the most articulate form of photographic representation." The challenges inherent to its practice are a direct component of Nixon’s motivation to fully realize the descriptive capacity of photography’s language.
Nixon's work has always championed photography’s humanistic potential. Past subjects have included couples, family gatherings and hospice patients; Nixon now turns the camera on himself. Magnified images of his face, hands and neck are not as much self-portraits as they are topographical studies. Rather than creating a disorienting effect, the remarkable lucidity of Nixon's images is a graceful and illuminating reminder that scale is relative. The seemingly insignificant details of a shirt's button or a patch of grass, when magnified, become objects of beauty and interest worthy of contemplation. Nixon also revisits the architectural landscapes of Boston in the 11 x 14 format, a subject he began to explore in the mid-1970s. In these cityscapes, Nixon captures details of building surfaces, reflections and shadows to produce beautiful, cubist-like constructions. In each of these bodies of work, Nixon moves close to the subject to focus on details which allude to the larger whole.
Nicholas Nixon (b. 1947, Detroit, Michigan) received a BA in English from the University of Michigan in 1969 and an MFA from the University of New Mexico in 1974. He has been a professor at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston since 1975. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including two John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships (1977, 1986); three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grants in Photography (1976, 1980, 1987); a Friends of Photography Peer Award (1988); and a George Gund Foundation Fellowship (2000).
Nixon's work can be found in museum collections worldwide, such as: the Art Institute of Chicago; the Bibliotheque National, Paris; the J. Paul Getty Museum of Art, Los Angeles; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Musee de L'Art Moderne, Paris; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Monographs of Nixon’s work include: Photographs from One Year (1983); Nicholas Nixon: Pictures of People (1988); Family Pictures (1991); People with AIDS (1991); School: Photographs from Three Schools (1998); The Brown Sisters (1999); A City Seen (2001); Nicholas Nixon (2003); and Live Love Look Last (2010).