This year marks the 40th anniversary of Nicholas Nixon’s The Brown Sisters, a photo series that documents his wife, Bebe, and her three sisters, Heather, Mimi, and Laurie, with one portrait taken every year. The project began in August, 1974, when, apparently on a whim, Nixon shot a group portrait of the sisters. Displeased with the image quality, he discarded it yet took another portrait of the Browns a year later. Mimi, the youngest, was 15 at the time; Bebe, the oldest, 25. He saved that portrait and then took another the following year at Laurie’s graduation — at which point he asked the sisters whether they’d be interested in taking a portrait every year. The resulting 40 images are currently on display on the Museum of Modern Art and are also the subject of a new book, Nicholas Nixon: Forty Years of the Brown Sisters.
“These pictures grew out of my curiosity about and admiration of this band of beautiful, strong women, who first let me into their lives, then allowed me to try making one picture, then joined me in a tradition, an annual rite of passage,” Nixon, now 67, writes in the introduction to the book. Click through the slideshow to follow the Brown sisters through the past four decades, from the first portrait in 1975 to the most recent, taken this year.
Nixon will be at MoMA on December 8 to sign copies of his new book.