The Brown Sisters: Forty Portraits That Tell us Nothing, and Everything


Life and Art combine to create something that is representative of the best both are capable of achieving.

I have little I can, or want to, add to the pictures themselves, part of a series undertaken by Nicholas Nixon.

This remarkable sequence of photographs contains essays, poems, short stories, even a novel. But it is more than those things; it’s better: it’s real, and the subject is at once obvious and elusive. Totally human.

And the accompanying story (by Susan Minot) is quite satisfactory, with this paragraph summing up so much:

These subjects are not after attention, a rare quality in this age when everyone is not only a photographer but often his own favorite subject. In this, Nixon has pulled off a paradox: The creation of photographs in which privacy is also the subject. The sisters’ privacy has remained of utmost concern to the artist, and it shows in the work. Year after year, up to the last stunning shot with its triumphant shadowy mood, their faces and stances say, Yes, we will give you our image, but nothing else.