Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1947, Nicholas Nixon obtained a degree in American Literature in 1969. After completing his graduate studies in Photography at the University of New Mexico, he combined his classes as a photography professor at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston with his work as a professional photographer. His interest in portraiture and documentary photography is captured in well-known series such as The Brown Sisters (1999-2012) and People with AIDS (1991), which denote the influence of great artists like Walker Evans.

Since 1976, the year he held his first solo show at the MoMA in New York, his work has been exhibited at numerous galleries and museums. He has also won a number of awards for his work, including two John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships, in 1977 and 1986, and the National Endowment for the Arts Photography Fellowship on three occasions (1976, 1980 and 1987). In 1999 the Museum of Modern Art in New York published a catalogue of the first twenty-five photographs in the Brown Sisters series. He has also published the following books: Photographs from One Year (1983), Pictures of People (1988), People with AIDS (1991), School (1998), Nicholas Nixon (2003), Home: Nicholas Nixon (2004) and Live Love Look Last (2009). Nixon’s photographs can be found in prestigious collections around the world, such as those of the MoMA in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris.

Leyre Bozal


  • Title: The Brown sisters, 1975
  • Creator: Nicholas Nixon
  • Creator Lifespan: 1947
  • Creator Birth Place: Detroit, Michigan
  • Date Created: 1975
  • Physical Dimensions: w60.5 x h50.5 cm (Without frame, without passepartout)
  • Artist Biography: At a family gathering in August 1974, Nicholas Nixon took a photo of his wife Bebe and his sisters-in-law Mimi, Laurie and Heather. Discarding that image as flawed, one year later he took a second portrait, which became the first in the series now known as The Brown Sisters. All the photographs in the series share certain formal parameters: the four women are always photographed in the same order and they are always looking directly at the camera. Candour, vulnerability and the inexorable passage of time come together, somewhat disconcertingly, in these photographs. Nicholas Nixon’s The Brown Sisters series is a work-in-progress to which a new image is added each year. A total of 37 photographs have been produced to date. The set owned by FUNDACION MAPFRE is one of a limited edition of seven, with a format of 50.5 x 60.5 cm, all gelatin silver prints. The installation custom for many years has been to use a complete wall to install all prints lined up by decades from the top down. FUNDACION MAPFRE decided to try a more narrative display, where the visitor strolls from image to image following a lineal path that will take them from 1975 to the last image produced. This display enhances the passing of time, and its consequences. Leyre Bozal
  • Type: Photography
  • Rights: © Nicholas Nixon, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco and Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, ©COLECCIONES FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE / Fernando Maquieira

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