Nicholas Nixon/ Nicholas Nixon

United States 1947

Photography

Nicholas Nixon
Nicholas Nixon
Male
United States
1947

Nicholas Nixon is an American artist best known for his portrait and documentary photography. The artist is known for creating emphatic portraits of the old and young people, couples and patients in hospital care or AIDS patients. Themes that Nixon covered were Boston schools and schoolchildren and ordinary, simple man and woman but also those in nursing homes, the blind, sick and dying human beings. Nicholas Nixon also documented the life of his family and his wife’s family in his celebrated series The Brown Sisters. Nicholas Nixon was one of the advocates of using 8×10 inch camera. He was strongly influenced by the work of Edward Weston and Walker Evans, who are the reason he started using large-format cameras. The artist was attracted to the technology due to its ability to develop prints directly from the 8X10 inch negative while simultaneously retaining the clarity and the image of the frame. And though many photographer abandoned the use of these cameras and replaced them with smaller 35 millimeters films Nixon remained true to the format as he preferred working on a greater scale.

Contact the artist for more on The Brown Sisters print
Nicholas Nixon – The Brown Sisters, 1975

The Brown Sisters

The artist is best known for his widely acclaimed The Brown Sisters masterpieces. In 1975 Nicholas Nixon took a photo of his future spouse Bebe and her three sisters Mimi, Laurie and Heather. The following year Laure Brown graduated from college and the event made for a perfect opportunity to take another group photo. It was then that Mimi, Laurie, Heather and Bebe decided to gather annually and pose one group portrait that would tell the story of their lives. And that’s how The Brown Sister was created. For more than forty years the artist has documented the lives of the sisters simultaneously telling the story of aging and human endurance. As the series progress, we see the skin loosen and fine wrinkles becoming more prominent, caused by the burden of time. But the pictures also tell the story of human strength and durability, family relations, and love as we see sister holding on to each other year after year to show their undying commitment and affection.

Nicholas Nixon’s The Brown Sisters photos tell the story about endurance and commitment

New print showing contact between sisters throughout the years was on view at exhibitions in massachusetts, 2010
Nicholas Nixon – The Brown Sisters, 2014

Industrial Landscapes by Nicholas Nixon

In 1975, the same year when his acclaimed The Brown Sisters series begun Nicholas Nixon draw attention of the art experts with his industrial landscape photography. He was one of 10 artists whose work was on view at New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape, a group exhibition that epitomized a key moment in American landscape photography. The exhibition marked a radical break with the tradition of landscape photography that focused on portraying wast landscapes unaltered by human activity. Instead the exhibition focused on portraying stark industrial landscapes and the show consisted of 168 rigorously formal, black-and-white prints of streets, warehouses, city centers, industrial sites and suburban houses1. The exhibition’s subtitle Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape elaborated the unifying theme of the artworks as every photographer exhibited images of urban landscapes of America. Nicholas Nixon’s work depicted intercity development by showing skyscrapers that stood above regular buildings, vast streets, and freeways, that made the pedestrians seem like interlopers in the world designed for automobiles. In many, ways the exhibition was a turning point in the history of photography as, for the first time, everyday objects and urban surrounding were accepted as a legitimate photography objects. Its influence on the fine art photography is indisputable but the exhibition also had a different more conceptual unifying motif. It underlined a much deeper fear of that generation that the natural elements will be completely replaced by the concrete structures thus completely separating humans from the surrounding nature.

Nicholas Nixon also documented the lives of sick and dying people

004 Nicholas Nixon - Dr. Robert Sappenfield with his son Bob, Dorchester, 1988
Nicholas Nixon – Dr. Robert Sappenfield with his son Bob, Dorchester, 1988

People with AIDS and New Series

In 1987, when AIDS was till in many ways, an unfamiliar and misunderstood illness, Nicholas Nixon made his celebrated People with AIDS project. People with AIDS portraits captured several AIDS patients including an aspiring Harvard student Tom Moran. The images followed his life from August 1987 till his death in February 1988 while documenting his physical deterioration in every stage of the disease.2 In the time when AIDS patients were viciously stigmatized and any contact with them condemned, Nicholas Nixon’s photos provided different outlooks on the AIDS victims. The images of disfigured, ravaged and lonely individuals deprived of any social and political background portrayed the brief life of AIDS patients as it truly was. The emphatic images of Tom Moran directly opposed the prejudices many AIDS patient still encounter today. Through his career, Nicholas Nixon’s works were shown at various exhibitions in acclaimed institutions including Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Cincinnati Art Museum. In 2010, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston hosted a solo show Nicholas Nixon: Family Album that included The Brown Sisters and other portraits of his wife Bebe, himself and their children. In 2015 Freankel Gallery organized an exhibition of Nicholas Nixon artwork encompassing 40 years of the prolific photographer’s career. Nicholas Nixon’s artworks are included in the collections of some of the most relevant art institutions in the world including Metropolitan Museum of Art,New York the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts.

References:

  1. O’Hagan S. New Topographics: photographs that find beauty in the banal, The Guardian [December 20, 2016]
  2. Ogdon B. Through the Image: Nicholas Nixon’s People with AIDS Discourse, Vol. 23, No. 3, (2001)

Nicholas Nixon lives and works in the United States

Featured image: Nicholas Nixon – Portrait © Boston Globe
Images Courtesy of Freankel Gallery unless otherwise credited

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Nicholas Nixon Old And New Galerie Eric Dupont, ParisSolo
2016Small Things Considered II Laurence Miller Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2016How I Learned To See Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2016Counterpoints: Photography Through the Lens of Toronto Collections Justina M Barnicke Gallery, University of Toronto, Toronto, ONGroup
2016New York Topographies Senior & Shopmaker Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2016The Instant as Image: Moments of Action in Photography from the Permanent Collection Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NYGroup
2015tout le monde Centre d´art contemporain d´Ivry le Credac, Ivry sur SeineGroup
2015A History of Photography: Series and Sequences Victoria & Albert Museum V&A, LondonGroup
2015 Hospice Patients Blue Sky Gallery, Portland, ORSolo
2015Retratos. Colección Fundación MAPFRE de Fotografía Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico CityGroup
2015Vernacular In Place: Old And New Topographic Photography University of New Mexico Art Museum (UNM), Albuquerque, NMGroup
2015About Forty Years Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2015Portrait – Sammlung Niedersächsische Sparkassenstiftung Oldenburger Kunstverein, OldenburgGroup
2015Ten Years Gone New Orleans Museum of Art NOMA, New Orleans, LAGroup
2015Nicholas Nixon Kunstareal München, MunichSolo
2015Framing Desire: Photography And Video The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TXGroup
2014Exposure: An Exhibition Of Contemporary Photography A128 Creative Arts Center, Dayton, OHGroup
2014Nicholas Nixon: 40 Years of The Brown Sisters Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MOSolo
2014Le Mur, La collection Antoine de Galbert La Maison Rouge, ParisGroup
2014Second Sight: The David Kronn Photography Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art IMMA, DublinGroup
2014Artificial Light: Flash Photography in the Twentieth Century Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PAGroup
2014The Social Medium DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MAGroup
2014Daily Memories Kunstmuseum Kloster unserer lieben Frauen Magdeburg, MagdeburgGroup
2014Nicholas Nixon: Forty Years of The Brown Sisters MoMA Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYSolo
2013Nicholas Nixon Pace / Macgill Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2013Urban Rolla Foundation, BruzellaGroup
2013I, You, We Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NYGroup
2013Skin: An Artistic Atlas RHA Gallery Royal Hibernian Academy, DublinGroup
2013Ages: Portraits of Growing Older Landesgalerie am Oberösterreichischen Landesmuseum, LinzGroup
2013Nicholas Nixon New Work Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2012Nicholas Nixon Galerie Eric Dupont, ParisSolo
2012Gaze The Changing Face of Portrait Photography Istanbul Modern, IstanbulGroup
2012The Deep Element: Photography at the Beach The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DCGroup
2012About Face Pier 24 Photography, San Francisco, CAGroup
2012Tenth Anniversary Acquisitions The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TXGroup
2011Pure Photography, Post Production and Mixed Media Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZGroup
2011The Art of Caring: A Look at Life through Photography Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale, FLGroup
2011Photography Calling! The Sound of Downloading Makes Me Want to Upload Sprengel Museum Hannover, HannoverGroup
2011New Topographics Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, BilbaoGroup
2011The Art of Caring: A Look at Life through Photography The Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TXGroup
2011mémoires du futur la collection Olbricht La Maison Rouge, ParisGroup
20111979, a Monument to Radical Moments La Virreina Centre de la Imatge, BarcelonaGroup
2011NEW TOPOGRAPHICS Robert Adams • Lewis Baltz • Bernd and Hilla Becher • Joe Deal • Frank Gohlke • Nicholas Nixon • John Preus Museum, HortenGroup
2010Lebenslust und Totentanz Kunsthalle Krems, KremsGroup
2010Where in the World? Pace / Macgill Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
201025 OR 30 YEARS GALLERY: PART III photography Galerie Paul Andriesse, AmsterdamGroup
2010Art of Caring A Look at Life through photography Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati, OHGroup
2010New Topographics: Photographs of a ManAltered Landscape San Francisco Museum of Modern Art SFMOMA, San Francisco, CAGroup
2010Exposing Time Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZGroup
2010My Base II / Photographs I saw in 80's in NY Kurenboh Chohouin Buddhist Temple Gallery, TokyoGroup
2010Ordinary Things Carrie Haddad Gallery / Photographs, Hudson, NYGroup
2010New Topographics Landesgalerie am Oberösterreichischen Landesmuseum, LinzGroup
2010Nicholas Nixon: Family Album MFA Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, MASolo
2010Nicholas Nixon: The Brown Sisters 1975 Nederlands Fotomuseum, RotterdamSolo
2009The art of caring: A Look at Life Though Photography New Orleans Museum of Art NOMA, New Orleans, LAGroup
2009Family Ties The Israel Museum, JerusalemGroup
2009Summer's Almost Gone Scheinbaum & Russek LTD, Santa Fe, NMGroup
2009What We’re Collecting Now: The Family Photographed George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, NYGroup
2009Bam Photography Portfolio III MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MAGroup
2009The Private Collection of Fern M. Schad Rick Wester Fine Art, New York City, NYGroup
2009New Topographics: Photographs of a ManAltered Landscape Los Angeles County Museum of Art LACMA, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2009Power Structures DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MAGroup
2009Inside Out: Portrait Photographs from the Permanent Collection Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, WAGroup
20098 X 10 And 11 X 14 Carroll and Sons, Boston, MASolo
2009Nicholas Nixon Self & City Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2009Nicolas Nixon: Old Home, New Pictures Pace / Macgill Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2008Presumed Innocence: Photographic Perspectives of Children DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MAGroup
2008Alle Zeit der Welt Kunsthalle Mainz, MainzGroup
2008Recurrences & Variations Maison de la Culture Namur, NamurGroup
2008Girls and Company: Feminist Works from MMoCA’s Permanent Collection MMoCA The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison, WIGroup
2008 Patients Yossi Milo Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2008day by day Kunstmuseum Dieselkraftwerk Cottbus, CottbusGroup
2008Une place apparemment inoffensive Maison d'Art Bernard Anthonioz, Nogent sur MarneGroup
2008Ego Documents. Das Autobiografische in der Gegenwartskunst Kunstmuseum Bern, BernGroup
2007 Patients Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2007Nicholas Nixon 30 Years of photography Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MOSolo
2007SECOND VIEW Amerikanische Fotografie Kunstmuseum Kloster unserer lieben Frauen Magdeburg, MagdeburgGroup
2007Eyes Wide Open New to the Stedelijk & The Monique Zajfen Collection Stedelijk Museum CS, AmsterdamGroup
2006Nicholas Nixon The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TXSolo
2006Portrait und Menschenbild SK Stiftung Kultur, CologneGroup
2006Tendenzen Internationaler Fotografie Städtische Galerie Delmenhorst, DelmenhorstGroup
2006Rethinking the Photographic Image UMMA The University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, MIGroup
2006Domestic Viewpoints Riverfront Museum Park, Rockford, ILGroup
2005Take Two Worlds and Views MoMA Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
2005YES YES YES YES Museum Morsbroich, LeverkusenGroup
2005Der Kontrakt des Fotografen AdK Akademie der Künste, BerlinGroup
2005Nicholas Nixon Yossi Milo Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2005Nicholas Nixon: The Brown Sisters, Thirty Years The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DCSolo
2005The Brown Sisters George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, NYSolo
2005Nicholas Nixon Galerie Paul Andriesse, AmsterdamSolo
2005Henri Jacobs Nicholas Nixon Galerie Paul Andriesse, AmsterdamGroup
2005Group Loop G Fine Art, Washington, DCGroup
2004Je t’envisage La disparition du portrait Musée de l´Elysée, LausanneGroup
2004Inside Out: Portrait Photographs from the Permanent Collection Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NYGroup
2004Ditto Multiples from the Collection MoCP The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, ILGroup
2004Illusion of innocence Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TNGroup
2004About Face Photographic Portraits from the Collection The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, ILGroup
2004 Recent Work Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2003Family Ties International contemporary artists interpret family Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MAGroup
2003Affinities... Now and Then Kansas City Art Institue, Kansas City, MOGroup
2003Flesh Tones 100 Years of the Nude Robert Mann Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2003cruel and tender: the real in the twentieth -century phtograph Tate Modern, LondonGroup
2003Cara a Cara Edifício Sede da Caixa Geral de Depósitos, LisbonGroup
2003 Close and Far Zabriskie Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2003Nicholas Nixon Bernard Toale Gallery, Boston, MASolo
2002A City Seen The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OHGroup
2002Looking at Children Photographs from the Permanent Collection The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OHGroup
2001Nicholas Nixon: 8 x 10 x 100 A128 Creative Arts Center, Dayton, OHSolo
2001Nicholas Nixon Lovers Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2001The Model Wife Maison Européenne de la Photographie, ParisGroup
2001Presence and Loss Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, WAGroup
2001The Model Wife The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OHGroup
2000Le Siecle Du Corps Photographies 1900 2000 Musée de l´Elysée, LausanneGroup
2000How you look at it Sprengel Museum Hannover, HannoverGroup
2000Celebrating Contemporary Art in New England: Recent Acquisitions DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MAGroup
1999Future -Present: Photographs of Children from the Reader’s Digest Collection The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CTGroup
1999Behind the Camera/Before the Lens Black Americans and Photography Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KYGroup
1998Several Exceptionally Good Recently Acquired Pictures XII Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
1998New Topographics: Photographs of a Man Altered Landscape Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, WAGroup
1997Nicholas Nixon Bebe & Me Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
1996Several Exceptionally Good Recently Acquired Pictures X Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
1995Nicholas Nixon Portraits 1975 1995 Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
1995A Child's World Candace Dwan Gallery Katonah, Katonah, NYGroup
1994Highlights of the Alfred Stieglitz Center Collection of Photographs Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PAGroup
1994Nicholas Nixon Familienbilder Sprengel Museum Hannover, HannoverSolo
1992Nicholas Nixon Pictures From Perkins School For The Blind Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
1992Art et sida : des médias à la métaphore Musée d´art contemporain de Montréal, Montreal, QCGroup
1992Figure/Form: The Nude in 20th Century Photography Jan Kesner Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
1991Nicholas Nixon: Pictures of People Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MOSolo
1991Nicholas Nixon New Family Pictures Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
1988Nicholas Nixon: Pictures of People MoMA Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYSolo
1988Diamonds Are Forever. Artists and Writers on Baseball CAC Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OHGroup
1988 People With Aids Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
1987Twelve Photographers Look at US Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PAGroup
1986Nicholas Nixon Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
1985Variants MoMA Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
1984Nicholas Nixon: New Contact Prints The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DCSolo
1984Nicholas Nixon Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
1984Photographs by Nicholas Nixon The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OHSolo
1983New Contacts: Photographs by Nicholas Nixon MMoCA The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison, WISolo
1982Nicholas Nixon Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
1981Mirrors and windows Fundación Juan March, MadridGroup
1981Frank Gohlke & Nicholas Nixon Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MIGroup
1980Nicholas Nixon Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
1980American Images: New Work by Twenty Contemporary Photographers ICP International Center of Photography, New York City, NYGroup
1980Photography And Architecture: 1840 1980 Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
1980Fleeting Gestures: Treasures of Dance Photograph University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PAGroup
1976Longer Views: 40 Photographs by Nicholas Nixon MoMA Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYSolo