A series of photos, taken by Nicholas Nixon, are reported to be currently on display at the Museum of Modern Art until Jan. 4. The exhibit, tagged 'Nicholas Nixon: Forty Years of the Brown Sisters', shows the physical transformation and aging of a group of four sisters over four decades.
At the time of the first picture above in 1974, from left to right, Heather was 23, Mimi was 15, Nixon's wife Bebe was 25, and Laurie was 21, and . Over the years, Nixon and his wife went on to have 2 children.
Nixon decided to photograph the four women - his wife and her three younger sisters - while on a visit to her parents in 1974. However, he did not like the way the photo turned out, a page for the exhibit says, adding that he took another in 1975 which he did like. The rest is history, according to the exhibit page;
'It was after this second successful picture that the group agreed to gather annually for a portrait, and settled on the series’ two constants: the sisters would always appear in the same order—from left to right, Heather, Mimi, Bebe, and Laurie—and they would jointly agree on a single image to represent a given year.'
Nixon explains the origins of the series to The Guardian,
'The series grew out of boredom. We’d go down to visit [my wife] BeBe’s parents on weekends.
'It was kind of boring, a lot of socializing, we were expected to show up for dinner every day...
Out of a friendly desperation, I said: ‘Let’s take a picture.'
'We are all aware of time passing and us not being aware of it while it’s passing,' Nixon told The Guardian. 'So seeing the sisters, for a lot of people, gives them a reliable marker that a year has passed.'
Nixon spoke about the love that binds the photo series together in an interview with the The Huffington Post last August, saying;
'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.
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.'
What a remarkable way to document history. I love it! May God keep them alive for several more decades. See the rest of the pictures below...