Comments/Context: Nicholas Nixon's newest photographs are measured and deliberate, slowed down to the point where attentiveness can overcome everyday distraction. They express interest in the cycle of life, from babies to centenarians, and consider the wearying effects of aging with warmth, curiosity, and affection. They are evidence of a photographer confident in his craft and unhesitant to contemplate the changing stages of his life.
In his previous show, Nixon had already begun to turn the camera on himself, making fragmented self-portraits of his rugged, bearded face. New images take that idea one step further, bringing his wife Bebe into the frame. Up-close pairs of eyes and mouths, the photographer's bristly whiskers pushing against her skin, his face buried in her long hair, the pictures revel in personal detail. More importantly, they deftly capture a sense of shared intimacy, of genuine caring and closeness built over a lifetime. They function equally well as masterful exercises in photographic texture and as love letters.
Nixon's images of mothers and their babies, flanked by centenarians and their loved ones (wives, husbands, sons, and daughters), center on the contrast of young and old, the opposite ends of the human spectrum. These photographs are all about embrace, about touching, holding, hugging, and supporting with the kind of fondness and emotion that is impossible to fake. In a certain way, both sets of images feel a little like commissioned portraits, but they are executed with such grace and good will that is hard not to admire them. The other images in the show capture humble nature scenes from Massachusetts and France, snowscapes and apple trees, meadows of long grasses and hollyhocks in bloom. They are quietly observant, catching and capturing the often overlooked details of changing seasons.
Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)
- Review: New Yorker (here)
Nicholas Nixon: Here and Now
Through February 23rd
32 East 57th Street