Nicholas Nixon Photographs (ISBN 84-89162-10-7)

Discussion in 'Book, Magazine, Gallery Reviews, Shows & Contests' started by Bill Mitchell, Dec 30, 2004.

  1. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    For Christmas I gave myself a (used) copy of "Nicholas Nixon Photographs," which covers images from the 1970s through 2003. I have always enjoyed his work, and own some of his other books. It's certainly impressive to know that he does it all with an 8x10 camera.
    The reproductions (over 100) are good, but for some reason I didn't like this book very much. Perhaps everythng seemed too much alike, even the complete "Brown Sisters" series. Maybe it's just my own bad attitude, but I'm going to use the dread "B" word -- BORING.
    The forward in English, repeated in Spanish (it's published in Spain), is interesting and well-written, and a Chronology is included.
    Sorry I can't give it a thumbs-up, but right now it seems like a poor use for $40.
     
  2. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I find his work, sometimes, a bit too literal. I never really thought the Brown sisters series was all that interesting. There's no context, and very little emotional or psychological interplay between them. For years, I never quite got Nixon's work. Having said that, in 1999 or thereabouts he published, with Dr. Robert Coles, a book called "School" which is really very good. Much more context, and emotion, and Coles' essays, though it's been awhile since I read them, are full of insight. You might look for this book instead next time you have forty bucks to spend!!
     
  3. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    Actually, I have a copy of "School," and thoroughly enjoy the photographs. My considerable pleasure in it was probably the reason that I bought "N.N. Photographs."
     
  4. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I still enjoy "The Brown Sisters". It's the only Nixon book I've seen that I continue to find interesting from the beginning to the end. That's for the concept more than the photography. In general, all Nixon's photos suffer from a lack of spontaneity.

    I went back and looked through the books I have by Nixon after seeing this thread. I originally liked his other family document photos. I now can't get into them. In my opinion, they are several levels below those of Sally Mann and Emmet Gowin--photographers who had the same concept and worked with the same methods.
     
  5. jon koss

    jon koss Subscriber

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    Definite example of The Chocolate and Vanilla Theory. By way of contrast, I saw a bunch of the Brown prints at a museum show years ago. I had never seen a Nixon print before and I went to the show merely to indulge my nascent interest in photographs. I went in without prejudice or preconception or even expectations. The Brown prints simply shattered me. I walked around in circles for days after. Until that point I had had no idea of the communicative power of photographs. I left feeling that if I could take just one photo that even approached the intensity of a Brown portrait, then I could die happy. Saying goodbye to the sisters that day left me with the same feeling of loss that previously I had felt only at the end of a great novel.

    Not sure why I wanted to share this - certainly not to "disagree" with previous posters. I realize that taste is strictly personal, so I respect the above criticisms. I guess just the topic itself set loose some dormant harmonic vibrations.
    Best, Jon
     
  6. lee

    lee Member

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    Nicholas Nixon teaches at my old alma mater, Mass College of Art Boston Ma. At least the last I heard.

    lee\c
     
  7. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If we all agreed here, it'd be a boring place, indeed! It might also be the power of the print, as I've only seen the Brown sisters in books. I may have seen one print someplace, somewhere, but I've never seen the series as actual prints, and something may well be lost in the reproductions.

    By way of example, I recently saw some Becher prints at a show at the Worrcester Art Museum, and though I've always been intrigued by their work, I never understood the impact of the prints until I stood in front of nine of them. WOW!

    Yes, Nixon teaches at the Mass College of Art.
     
  8. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    Nicholas Nixon curated/judged a photo exhibition at the former ZONE Art Center in Sprinfield, MA (probably about 12 years ago). He is a very approachable and down to earth person. He gave a lecture and showed slides of and actual prints from his school series. The prints were gorgeous. It was amazing that they were taken with a LF camera, they looked so casual and unposed.

    gene