new-york

Nicholas Nixon

Zabriskie Gallery; Museum of Modern Art

Nicholas Nixon’s pictures from the late ’70s and early ’80s display an astonishing command of composition. In a typical shot, as many as half a dozen people, most often seen on porches or in backyards, are arranged in taut, subtly balanced groupings full of dramatic and formal meanings; the images bear the seeming inevitability of well-told tales. These pictures share the supple grace of the best street photography, as represented by the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, and Garry Winogrand. But because Nixon used a cumbersome 8-by-10 inch apparatus rather than a compact 35-mm. camera, the images have a solidity and timelessness that encourages us to examine them with a degree of attention rarely possible.

In the years since then, Nixon has continued to extend the terms of his work to encompass an ever broader and more emotionally charged range of subjects. At MoMA, his photographs

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