National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Image: Nicholas Nixon: The Brown Sisters, Thirty Years, November 13, 2005-February 19, 2006

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery. Please follow the links below for related online resources or visit our current exhibitions schedule.

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Works by
Nicholas Nixon
in the Gallery's Collection

Biography of
Nicholas Nixon

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Image: Nicholas Nixon, The Brown Sisters, 1984, Patrons' Permanent Fund, 2001.67.174Each year since 1975, Boston-based photographer Nicholas Nixon (b. 1947) has made one black-and-white photograph of his wife, Beverly (Bebe) Brown, and her three sisters. Using a large eight-by-ten-inch view camera positioned at eye level, he always photographs the women in the same order from left to right: Heather, Mimi, Bebe, and Laurie. Although he makes multiple exposures, Nixon selects only one photograph to represent the women each year.

Working within these limited parameters, Nixon has created a compelling investigation of both portraiture and the passage of time. Taken as a whole, the 31 photographs made between 1975 and 2005 reveal not only incidental changes in background, lighting, and dress, but also the gradual, incremental aging of the women. Nixon's disciplined approach to photographing the Brown sisters also records the evolving demeanor of the women and suggests their changing relationships with one another. While the photographs have roots in the tradition of the family snapshot, Nixon's artistic rigor and the Brown sisters' commitment to the project transcend this heritage to create a moving testament to the dynamism and complexity of human relationships.

All of the prints in the exhibition are from the collection of the National Gallery of Art. Their acquisition was made possible by the Patrons' Permanent Fund, the Collectors Committee, and the Fund for Living Photographers.

Sponsor: This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the Trellis Fund and The Ryna and Melvin Cohen Family Foundation.