It was in 1975 when the world-renowned Detroit-born photographer Nicolas Nixon, a professor of photography at the Massachusetts College of Art originally photographed his wife Bebe and her 3 sisters. They liked the picture so much that they collectively decided to make it a yearly event – the annual family photo – the family’s “annual rite of passage,” as Nicolas Nixon has called it.
Each image reflects another year of life experiences that take their toll.
In 1999, when the resulting series of photographs reached its twenty-fifth anniversary, The Museum of Modern Art published The Brown Sisters photography book, presenting all of the portraits in sequence. “We might wish,” said Peter Galassi, the Museum’s Chief Curator of Photography, “that our family included a photographer of such discipline and skill but otherwise Nixon’s pictures do what all family photographs do: they fix a presence and mark the passage of time, graciously declining to expound or explain.”
That edition is out of print. Eight years later the Museum is published a second edition, including eight new photographs that brought the series up to date.
As of today the Brown Sisters photo story numbers 36 photographs – candid and and at the same time poetic.