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Back to Reviews 96

Sam, Lexington

racing forms
by p.c. smith
a gallery tip sheet

Nicholas Nixon
at Zabriskie

Jan. 26-Mar. 8, 1997

Like James Taylor's music, I've always associated Nicholas Nixon's photographs with the bland `70s. Nixon is known for well-crafted black-and-white pictures of fairly ordinary people, taken with an 8 x 10 view camera and usually contact-printed. These have included a few "unusual" subjects, notably a recent series of AIDS patients harrowingly near death. In this show, though, titled "Here and There," are contact prints of his wife and children ("Here") and 20 x 24 in. enlargements of students at the Boston Latin School ("There"). The candid groupings of students are ostentatiously unremarkable, as if Nixon believes that in time, the most important characteristics of a moment will be the ones we take most for granted. It is Nixon's family photos that really bring this point home with the force of sentiment. One sees him treasuring his children's normality, particularly in intimate details like a close-up of his son's hair. Some photographs even swoon blissfully out of focus.

P.C. SMITH is a painter who writes on art.