Nicholas Nixon (b. 1947, Detroit, Michigan) received a BA in English from the University of Michigan in 1969 and an MFA from the University of New Mexico in 1974.
Since the 1970s, Nixon has explored portraiture and documentary photography using large format (8 x 10 and 11 x 14 inch) view cameras to record his subjects with meticulous detail. His work has consistently championed photography's humanistic potential, with subjects including schoolchildren in Boston, porch life in the rural south, the elderly and ailing in hospice care, couples, as well as his own family. In 1975, Nixon began what is perhaps his best-known series, "The Brown Sisters." This ongoing project is comprised of black and white portraits of his wife, Beverly (Bebe) Brown, and her three sisters, taken annually over the course of 34 years. From 2005 to 2006, "The Brown Sisters" was exhibited at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the George Eastman House, Rochester, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas.
Nixon is the recipient of numerous awards, including two John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships (1977, 1986); three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grants in Photography (1976, 1980, 1987); a Massachusetts Council of the Arts "New Works" Grant (1982); a Friends of Photography Peer Award (1988); and a George Gund Foundation Fellowship (2000).
His work can be found in museum collections worldwide, such as: the Art Institute of Chicago; the Bibliotheque National, Paris; the George Eastman House, Rochester; the J. Paul Getty Museum of Art, Los Angeles; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Musee de L'Art Moderne, Paris; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Sprengel Museum, Hannover; the Tokyo Museum of Art; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Monographs of Nixon's work include: Photographs from One Year (1983); Nicholas Nixon: Pictures of People (1988); Family Pictures (1991); People with AIDS (1991); School: Photographs from Three Schools (1998); The Brown Sisters (1999); A City Seen (2001); Nicholas Nixon (2003); and Live Love Look Last (2010).
Nixon lives in Brookline, Massachusetts and has been a professor at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston since 1975.