113
113

COLLECTION OF C. DAVID & MARY ROBINSON

Nicholas Nixon
THE BROWN SISTERS
Estimation
200 000300 000
Lot. Vendu 370,000 USD (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT
113

COLLECTION OF C. DAVID & MARY ROBINSON

Nicholas Nixon
THE BROWN SISTERS
Estimation
200 000300 000
Lot. Vendu 370,000 USD (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Photographs

|
New York

Nicholas Nixon
B. 1947
THE BROWN SISTERS
the complete-to-date suite of 40 photographs from The Brown Sisters series, comprising consecutively the years from 1975 to 2014, each signed, titled, dated, and editioned in pencil on the reverse, 1975-2014, each from an edition of 50 (40)
Each 7 5/8  by 9 5/8  in. (19.5 by 24.6 cm.)
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Provenance

Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, from 1985 to 2014

Bibliographie

Nicholas Nixon, The Brown Sisters (The Museum of Modern Art, 1999 and 2014)

John Szarkowski, Mirrors and Windows: American Photography Since 1960 (The Museum of Modern Art, 1978), pp. 146 and 147

Emma Dexter and Thomas Weski, Cruel and Tender: The Real in the Twentieth-Century Photograph (Tate Modern, 2003), pp. 142-7

Keith Davis, An American Century of Photography, from Dry-Plate to Digital, 2nd ed. (Hallmark, 1999), pl. 436

Sarah Greenough et al., On the Art of Fixing a Shadow: One Hundred and fifty Years of Photography (National Gallery of Art and Art Institute of Chicago, 1989), pl. 340

Katherine A. Bussard, So The Story Goes (The Art Institute of Chicago, 2006), p. 14

Description

Nicholas Nixon began his series of group portraits of the Brown sisters – Heather, Mimi, Bebe, and Laurie – in 1975.  He had met Bebe in 1970, and they married in 1971.  At a Brown family gathering in 1974, Nixon made a photograph of Bebe and her three sisters.  Unsatisfied with the result, he made a second attempt in July of 1975, and this photograph became the starting point for one of the most remarkable continuing photographic series of the 20th and 21st centuries.  Nixon has continued to make photographs of the four sisters each year since 1975, working with an 8-by-10-inch view camera and contact-printing his negatives to capture the highest level of detail, and to document his subjects as completely as possible.   

The 1975 and 1976 portraits were included by John Szarkowski in Longer Views: 40 Photographs by Nick Nixon at The Museum of Modern Art in 1976.  This was Nixon’s first solo exhibition and, fittingly, was the debut of images from his then-new project. Szarkowski also included Brown Sisters photographs in his important 1978 exhibition, Mirrors and Windows: American Photography Since 1960.  In 1998 MoMA published a monograph devoted to The Brown Sisters; in 2014, in honor of the 40th anniversary of the project, MoMA updated this monograph to include the most recent annual additions.  Seen in its current entirety, the 40 images presented here offer a meditation on the passage of time, and on the unique capability of photography to freeze individual instants.  Nixon, in collaboration with his subjects, has created a highly detailed and compelling multi-decade portrait through 40 specific moments in time. 

This complete-to-date set of The Brown Sisters comes from the collection of Mary Robinson and her late husband, C. David Robinson.  After building a significant collection of minimalist art of the 1960s and 1970s, the Robinsons became, in the 1980s, devoted collectors of photography, focusing on great individual images from the medium’s very early years through the 20th century.  Their photography collection was acquired by the National Gallery of Art in 1995, where it currently forms a cornerstone of the photography holdings. 

The Robinsons began collecting The Brown Sisters in 1985, when they acquired the initial images in the series, and then subsequently purchased each yearly portrait as issued by Nixon.  The Robinsons’ set is the largest group of The Brown Sisters ever to appear at auction.  It is believed that approximately 21 international institutions – The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and La Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, among them – own complete sets, and that approximately 12 private collectors acquire a print every year.

Photographs

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New York