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Nicholas Nixon: Close and Far


December 2, 2003 through January 17, 2004 Zabriskie Gallery presents two new photographic series by Nicholas Nixon. One is a series of new views of Boston, made with a long lens, with flattened space and extraordinarily dense, complex forms that suggest the idea of a living city in the process of growth, change, and transformation. This group consists of enlargements made from his usual 8” x 10” negatives. The second series is about bodies: couples, individuals, nude and clothed, made with a new camera and a new format, 10” x 12”, shown as contact prints. Unlike the city pictures, which are made from a great distance, the body pictures are intense, close, sensual, and often without context.

Nixon showed landscape photographs of New York and Boston in the seminal New Topographics show at the George Eastman House in 1975. Unlike those images, the new photographs are not landscapes in the traditional sense. That is, they do not always contain the usual elements of earth, scenery, and sky. It is the latter element that most of the new images lack. Rather, they concentrate on the buildings and structures themselves without firmament. Images like View of the Sakin Bridge detail a parking lot filled with cars, "stacked" by the bridge itself, buildings, wharfs, and the multitude of elements in between. Meanwhile, the highlighted supporting cables of the bridge diagonally rake across the composition like artificial sunrays, reminding us that what one sees is no less or more than a document of light.

The second series is an extension of Nixon's previous body of works, Couples. Continuing in his own tradition, Nicholas Nixon’s photographs “depict their subjects without prejudice. They neither flatter them nor disdain them; they indulge in neither sentiment or irony” (Andy Grundberg). Over the last twenty-five years, Nixon has pursued series documenting cities, people on porches, old people, visiting nurses, people with AIDS, public schools, the Brown Sisters (one group portrait of his wife and her sisters every year), and his own immediate family. Most of these projects have documented change over time in the lives of their subjects, and together they have described people of all ages.

Nicholas Nixon has had solo exhibitions at major museums including the Art Institute of Chicago (1985), the Victoria and Albert Museum (1989), and the Museum of Modern Art (1976 and 1988), which organized his mid-career retrospective, Pictures of People. He has received three NEA Fellowships and two Guggenheim Fellowships. Nixon’s work has appeared in Zabriskie group shows since Ten Contemporary American Photographers at Galerie Zabriskie Paris in 1977. This is his tenth one-person show at Zabriskie.

Please join us at a reception to view the exhibition on Tuesday, December 2nd, 2003, from 6-8pm. The artist will be present.

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