Nan Goldin

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The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1986). The image on the cover is "Nan and Brian in Bed" (1981).
Nan Goldin, The Hug, NYC, 1980, cibachrome, 40 x 30 inches
Nan Goldin, Misty and Jimmy Paulette in a Taxi, NYC, 1991, 30 x 40 inches
Nan Goldin, Christmas at the Other Side, Boston, 1972, gelatin-silver print, 16 x 20 inches

Nan Goldin (born 1953) is an American fine-art and documentary photographer. She is represented by the Matthew Marks Gallery in New York.


[edit] Biography

Goldin was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in an upper-middle-class Jewish family in the Boston, Massachusetts suburb of Lexington. After attending the nearby Lexington High School, she enrolled at the Satya Community School in Boston, where a teacher introduced her to the camera in 1968; Goldin was then fifteen years old. Her first solo show, held in Boston in 1973, was based on her photographic journeys among the city's gay and transsexual communities, to which she had been introduced by her friend David Armstrong. Goldin graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Tufts University in 1977/1978, where she had worked mostly with Cibachrome prints.

Following graduation, Goldin moved to New York City. She began documenting the post-punk new-wave music scene, along with the city's vibrant, post-Stonewall gay subculture of the late 1970s and early 1980s. She was drawn especially to the Bowery's hard-drug subculture; these photographs, taken between 1979 and 1986, form her famous work The Ballad of Sexual Dependency — a title taken from a song in Bertolt Brecht's Threepenny Opera.[1]These snapshot aesthetic images depict drug use, violent, aggressive couples and autobiographical moments. Most of her Ballad subjects were dead by the 1990s, lost either to drug overdose or AIDS; this tally included close friends and often-photographed subjects Greer Lankton and Cookie Mueller. In 2003, The New York Times nodded to the work's impact, explaining Goldin had "forged a genre, with photography as influential as any in the last twenty years."[2]In addition to Ballad, she combined her Bowery pictures in two other series: "I'll Be Your Mirror" (from a song on The Velvet Underground's The Velvet Underground and Nico album) and "All By Myself."

Goldin's work is most often presented in the form of a slideshow, and has been shown at film festivals; her most famous being a 45 minute show in which 800 pictures are displayed. The main themes of her early pictures are love, gender, domesticity, and sexuality; these frames are usually shot with available light. She has affectionately documented women looking in mirrors, girls in bathrooms and barrooms, drag queens, sexual acts, and the culture of obsession and dependency. The images are viewed like a private journal made public. [3]

Goldin's work since 1995 has included a wide array of subject matter: collaborative book projects with famed Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki; New York City skylines; uncanny landscapes (notably of people in water); her lover, Siobhan; and babies, parenthood and family life.

Goldin lives in New York and Paris—one reason the French Pompidou Centre mounted a major retrospective of her work in 2002. Her hand was injured in a fall in 2002, and she currently retains less ability to turn it than in the past.[4]

In 2006, her exhibition, Chasing a Ghost, opened in New York. It was the first installation by her to include moving pictures, a fully narrative score, and voiceover, and included the disturbing three-screen slide and video presentation Sisters, Saints, & Sybils. The work involved her sister Barbara's suicide and how she coped through a numerous amount of images and narratives. Her works are developing more and more into cinemaesque features, exemplifying her graviation towards working with films. [5]

She was the recipient of the 2007 Hasselblad Award.

[edit] Criticism

Some critics have accused her of making heroin-use appear glamorous, and of pioneering a grunge style that later became popularized by youth fashion magazines such as The Face and I-D. However, in a 2002 interview with the U.K. Observer, Goldin herself called the use of "heroin chic" to sell clothes and perfumes "reprehensible and evil."[6]

[edit] Portrayal in film

The photographs by the character Lucy Berliner, played by actress Ally Sheedy in the 1998 film High Art, were based on those by Goldin.[7]

[edit] Bibliography

  • (2003) Devils Playground. Phaidon Press. ISBN 978-0714842233.
  • (2001) Nan Goldin. 55, Phaidon Press, London. ISBN 978-0714840734.
  • (1999) Nan Goldin: Recent Photographs. Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston.
  • (1998) Couples and Loneliness. Korinsha Press, Tokyo.
  • (1998) Ten Years After: Naples 1986-1996. Scalo Publishers. ISBN 978-3931141790.
  • (1998) Emotions and Relations (exhibition catalogue). Taschen, Cologne.
  • (1997) Love Streams (exhibition catalogue). Yvon Lambert, Paris.
  • (1996) I'll Be Your Mirror (exhibition catalogue). Scalo Publishers. ISBN 978-3931141332.
  • (1995) The Golden Years (exhibition catalogue). Yvon Lambert, Paris.
  • (1994) Tokyo Love. Hon don do, Tokyo.
  • (1994) A double life. Scalo, Zurich.
  • (1994) Desire by Numbers. Artspace, San Francisco.
  • (1993) Vakat. Watler Konig, Cologne.
  • (1993) The Other Side. Perseus Distribution Services. ISBN 1881616037
  • (1991) Cookie Mueller (exhibition catalogue). Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York.
  • (1986) The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. Aperture. ISBN 978-0893812362.

[edit] References

  1. ^ Brecht, Bertolt. "Three Penny Opera." Act II, song 12.
  2. ^ Tillman, Lynne. The New York Times. "A New Chapter of Nan Goldin's Diary." 16 November, 2003.
  3. ^ Nan Goldin at Pa. Academy of Fine Arts, ARTINFO, December 17, 2005,, retrieved on 2008-04-23 
  4. ^ Artist profile: Nan Goldin
  5. ^ Robert Ayers (March 27, 2006), Nan Goldin, ARTINFO,, retrieved on 2008-04-23 
  6. ^ Garratt, Sheryl. The Observer. "The Dark Room." 6 January, 2002. Goldin explains, "I never took pictures of people doing heroin to sell clothes. And I have a bit of a problem with it. Like this Dior campaign right now, where the girl is really dope-sick then she sprays Addiction perfume and suddenly she's high. I find that really reprehensible and evil."
  7. ^ Lisa Cholodenko's icy 'High Art' turns from chic comedy to humiliation

[edit] External links

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