View of Washington Street, Boston [View East from Pi Alley, Boston] 2008, copy of 2009 Gelatin silver copy 34,6 x 27,3 cm. Photograph ©Nicholas Nixon. Courtesy of Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco. Via Mapfre
From 14 September, at the Fundación MAPFRE Recoletos Exhibition Hall in Madrid, you will be able to visit the largest ever retrospective to date of the work of Nicholas Nixon, (Detroit, Michigan, 1947), with a selection of over two hundred photographs. The photos range from the first city views of the 1970s up to the well-known series The Brown Sisters.
Concentrating particularly on portraiture, Nicholas Nixon occupies a distinguished and unique place in the history of photography over recent decades. His work exposes the constant tension between the content and the emotions that underlie his images. His photos reveal to us the realities of his daily life through a very refined technique and careful composition. We are presented with themes and aspects of life that, through their familiarity and humanity, induce the viewer to feel part of and identify with the images.
New Topographics. Nixon's career began in the 1970s when he was a student of photography. Following his first photos of Alburquerque, he shot his first major series, City views. These photographs, taken in Boston and New York, formed part of one of the most influential exhibitions in the history of photography, organized in 1975 by George Eastman House entitled New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape.
Time. This is, without doubt, one of the main themes dealt with by Nixon throughout the whole of his career. From the very start he has worked on series that touch on fundamental aspects of human life, and one of them is the passage of time. This is very noticeable in his series of the elderly, his family scenes and is particularly much more evident in the celebrated series of The Brown Sisters.
Intimacy. Nixon approaches the topics he wants to deal with by revealing a very close-up view of the reality of his subjects. The use of large format cameras requires the proximity and collaboration of his subjects to be able to show the themes that interest him: the sick and the old, couples and his own family. In these pieces, he presents us with a moment from everyday life that has the capacity to transcend the purely material and convert it into something that connects with the viewer's own life experience.
Technique. The type of camera used has always defined his style. His first camera was a Leica, but he quickly began to explore the possibilities of larger format cameras, (4 x 5, 8 x 10 and even 11 x 14 inches). This represents a very slow way of working and means that the results yield images of an extraordinary sharpness and compositional clarity, in which much more can be perceived than with the naked eye.
Over his career spanning nearly fifty years, Nixon has always worked using series. Some of them such as The Brown Sisters or his family portraits extend throughout his entire career. His method of working requires a great deal of time: as much due to the intimacy and confidence he demands from his subjects as for the technique he employs (large format camera). The relationship he needs to establish with his subjects and the themes on which he concentrates once again demand a lot of time in order for him to achieve his objective: the elderly, the sick, the intimacy between couples and the family.
After showing in Madrid, in 2018 and 2019 the exhibition will move to the Centro Andaluz de la Fotografía, C/O Berlin and Fondation A in Brussels.