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Nicholas Nixon. The Brown Sisters, Hartford, Connecticut. 1976

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Nicholas Nixon (American, born 1947)

The Brown Sisters, Hartford, Connecticut

Gelatin silver print
7 11/16 x 9 5/8" (19.6 x 24.5 cm)
Credit Line:
MoMA Number:
© 2015 Nicholas Nixon
Audio Program excerpt

Take Two. Worlds and Views: Contemporary Art from the Collection

, September 14, 2005–March 21, 2006

Artist, Nicholas Nixon: My name is Nicholas Nixon. I'm speaking from Boston where I live. These are pictures of my wife Bebe and her three sisters that I've taken for thirty-one years now. The first picture was just made on a weekend when I was with my in-laws. I'd been married four years. The woman on the left is Heather. Heather was 23, Mimi was 15, Bebe was 25, and Laurie was 21.

It didn't really get serious until the next year, the year of Laurie—the woman on the right's—college graduation. And that's when I took the second one, and kind of on a whim, said let's do it in the same order. So it was having two pictures in my hand, and the year space between them that gave me the idea that it would be really interesting to do it forever. And so I asked them if we could. And they all laughed at me and said sure.

We joke about it. But everybody knows that certainly my intention would be that we would go on forever no matter what. To just take three, and then two, and then one. The joke question is what happens if I go in the middle. I think we'll figure that out when the time comes.

I really try hard to make the pictures as interesting formally as I possibly can. One of my clear visual tricks is that I like open sky, cause I love to see the shapes of their heads, and I like to play around with the intervals in between them.

I take probably a dozen each year. They tell me what their favorites are, and what they dislike. But then I choose. I try to be as open with what they say as possible. In fact, I love to know what they think.

Being an only child, it was really gratifying and lovely to be embraced by this family. There's still a ground water of affection, and support. I look back at these thirty-some pictures and it's like they're of my sisters. I can feel myself getting old with them. And I'm part of them; they're part of my love.

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