Nicholas Nixon (born 1947 in Detroit, Michigan) is known for the ease and intimacy of his black and white large format photography. Nixon has photographed porch life in the rural south, schools in and around Boston, cityscapes, sick and dying people, the intimacy of couples, and the ongoing annual portrait of his wife, Bebe, and her three sisters (which he began in 1975).
Recording his subjects close and with meticulous detail facilitates the connection between the viewer and the subject. Nixon has been awarded three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and two Guggenheim Fellowships. In 2005 Nixon had a solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Cincinnati Art Museum. In 2006, Nixon’s ongoing portrait of the Brown sisters was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas. In 2010, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston exhibited Nicholas Nixon: Family Album, through May 2011. In Summer 2013 Nixon’s book Close Far was released by Steidl. The body of work explores the relationship of the self in physical and psychological proximity to the urban landscape. Nixon’s work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, among many others.
About the The Brown Sisters's serie :
Nicholas Nixon was visiting his wife’s family when, “on a whim,” he said, he asked her and her three sisters if he could take their picture. It was summer 1975, and a black-and-white photograph of four young women — elbows casually attenuated, in summer shirts and pants, standing pale and luminous against a velvety background of trees and lawn — was the result. A year later, at the graduation of one of the sisters, while readying a shot of them, he suggested they line up in the same order. After he saw the image, he asked them if they might do it every year. “They seemed O.K. with it,” he said; thus began a project that has spanned almost his whole career. The series, which has been shown around the world over the past four decades, will be on view at the Museum of Modern Art, coinciding with the museum’s publication of the book “The Brown Sisters: Forty Years” in November.
Who are these sisters? We’re never told (though we know their names: from left, Heather, Mimi, Bebe and Laurie; Bebe, of the penetrating gaze, is Nixon’s wife). The human impulse is to look for clues, but soon we dispense with our anthropological scrutiny — Irish? Yankee, quite likely, with their decidedly glamour-neutral attitudes — and our curiosity becomes piqued instead by their undaunted stares. All four sisters almost always look directly at the camera, as if to make contact, even if their gazes are guarded or restrained.