Nicholas Nixon

American (Detroit, Michigan, 1947)

The Brown Sisters

photograph | gelatin silver prints
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  • The Brown Sisters

    Nicholas Nixon, The Brown Sisters, 1975-1999; gelatin silver prints, 8 in. x 10 in. (20.32 cm x 25.4 cm); Collection SFMOMA, © Nicholas Nixon, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco and Yossi Milo Gallery, New York; photo: Don Ross

Every year since 1975, Nixon has made a group portrait of his wife, Beverly (Bebe) Brown, and her three sisters, posed in the same order (from left): Heather, Mimi, Bebe, and Laurie. Because Nixon selects only one photograph to represent each year, the series now comprises thirty-two images, which together constitute a sustained humanistic meditation on portraiture, aging, and the changing nature of familial relationships.

When we view their portraits chronologically we see the sisters age and change before our eyes, their various hairstyles and fashion choices situating them in historical time. In some photographs they appear expressionless and disengaged from one another, while in others they interact and reveal more to the camera. Although we are not privy to the specifics of their personal experiences, we can imagine from their expressions and gestures the joys and sorrows the years have delivered.

8 in. x 10 in. (20.32 cm x 25.4 cm)
Acquired 2000
Collection SFMOMA
© Nicholas Nixon, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco and Yossi Milo Gallery, New York


women, portraits, family, families, series, groups, faces, shadows, posing

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