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Nan Goldin

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Nan Goldin Biography

born Washington, D.C. (USA) 1953

Nan Goldin (b. Washington, DC, 1953) is a notable American fine-art and documentary photographer.

She grew up in Maryland, but ran away from home and was fostered by a variety of families. Her later schooling was at the Satya Community School in Boston, where a teacher introduced her to the camera in 1968 when she was aged fifteen. Her first solo show was in Boston in 1973, based on her photography among the city's gay and transvestive communities, to whom she had been introduced by her friend David Armstrong. It was he who re-named her as "Nan". She graduated from Tufts University in 1977/8, where she had worked mostly with Cibachrome prints.

After graduation she moved to New York and began documentary photography of the post-punk new-wave music scene, gradually being drawn in to the Bowery's hard drug subculture. These pictures, taken from 1980 to 1986, formed her famous work The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. The images depict drug use, violent, aggressive couples, and autobiographical moments. Most of her Ballad subjects were dead by the 1990s. Some critics have accused her of making heroin-use appear glamourous, pioneering a grunge style that later became popularised by youth fashion magazines such as The Face and I-D. Goldin called the use of "heroin chic" to sell clothes and perfumes: "reprehensible and evil".

Her work is most often presented in the form of a slideshow, and has been presented at film festivals. Most famous is a 45 minute show in which 800 pictures are seen. This format perhaps reflects the fact that her work developed at a time when few art galleries would show photography. The main themes of her early pictures are love, gender and sexuality, usually made with available light.

Her recent pictures since 1995 have been of Tokyo youth subcultures; landscapes of New York skylines; uncanny landscapes (notably of people in water); her lover Siobhan; babies, parenthood and family life.

She currently lives in Paris and London. The Pompidou Centre, Paris, held a major retrospective of her work in 2002. She badly smashed her hand in 2002, and surgery was not a success.

Select Timeline

Select Exhibitions

  • 1985 - Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art New York, NY
  • 1985 - Self-Portrait Show, Museum of Modern Art NY
  • 1985 - Currents, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, MA
  • 1987 - Twelve Photographers Look at the U.S., Philadelphia Museum of Art Philadelphia, PA
  • 1987 - Art and Photography: Interactions Since 1946, Los Angeles County Museum Los Angeles, CA
  • 1988 - Rice University Media Center Houston Foto Fest, Houston, TX
  • 1989 - New Acquisitions, George Eastman House/Internat'l Museum Photogrphy Rochester, NY
  • 1990 - An Army of Lovers, NY
  • 1990 - The Indomitable Spirit, Internat'l Center of Photogrphy & Municipal Art NY
  • 1991 - Exploring the Unknown Self: Self-Portraits of Contemporary Women, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography Tokyo, Japan
  • 1991 - Berlin Film Festival Berlin
  • 1991 - Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort, The Museum of Modern Art NY
  • 1992 - New Visions in Photography, Whitney Museum of American Art New York, NY
  • 1993 - La Vida Sin Amor No Tiene Sentido, Fundacio La Caixa Barcelona, Spain
  • 1993 - Institute of Contemporary Arts London
  • 1993 - 1993 Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art New York, NY
  • 1994 - Die Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, Germany
  • 1994 - Museum fur Gestaltung Zurich
  • 1995 - 1995 Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art New York, NY
  • 1995 - Centro d'Art Contemporain Geneva
  • 1995 - Ulmer Museum Ulm, Germany
  • 1995 - Public Information: Desire, Disaster, Document, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art San Francisco
  • 1996 - Social Documents, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, CA
  • 1996 - I'll Be Your Mirror, Whitney Museum of American Art New York, NY
  • 1996 - Matthew Marks Gallery New York, NY
  • 1997 - Rrose is a Rrose is a Rrose: Gender Performance in Photography, Solomon R. Guggenheim New York, NY
  • 1997 - Fraenkel Gallery San Francisco
  • 1998 - Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art Yamaguchi, Japan
  • 1998 - Matthew Marks Gallery New York, NY
  • 1999 - Contemporary Art Museum, Houston
  • 1999 - National Gallery of Iceland, Reykjavik
  • 1999 - The Joseloff Gallery, University of Hartford, Hartford, CT
  • 1999 - White Cube, London
  • 2000 - Scalo, Zurich
  • 2001 - Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
  • 2002 - Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
  • 2003 - Nan Goldin 'Heartbeat', Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, USA
  • 2006 - Post War + Contemporary Art, Wrighy, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  • 2006 - Obra Grafica y Seriada, Galeria Argenta, Valencia, Spain

Select Artwork

  • Lola Modelling, Boston, 1972
  • Ivy Smoking in Boston Commons
  • Joana and Aurele making out in my apartment, NYC, 1999
  • Joana Topless at the Chateau le Bastion, 2000
  • Gina at Bruce's Dinner Party
  • Fatima Candles, Portugal, 1998
  • Mika at her Mirror, Tokyo, 1994
  • Jen's Hand on Clemen's Back, Paris, 2001, 2004
  • Volcano at Dawn, Stromboli, 1993-1998
  • Crystal with a friend, 1973
  • Capri Twilight, 1997
  • Cookie in Tin Pan Alley, New York City, 1983
  • C in the Club, Bangkok, 1992
  • Kim in Rhinestones (Paris), 1991
  • Amanda in the locker room, 1993
  • Bathroom, Hafenbar Berlin, 1992

Quotes

  • "I missed the '80s, fortunately--I wasn't very aware of things outside my world. I knew about those photographers who were doing media-related stuff, from Cindy Sherman, whose work I love, to Sherrie Levine and Laurie Simmons and all those other ones, but I was never part of any movement, and I never read theory. I think that was to my benefit."

Publications

  • The Ballad of Sexual Dependency - by Nan Goldin, Aperture; New Ed edition (December 7, 2001)
  • Fantastic Tales: The Photography of Nan Goldin - by Jonathan Weinberg, Joyce Henri Robinson, Palmer Museum of Art (October 30, 2005)
  • Devil's Playground - by Nan Goldin, Phaidon Press (November 18, 2003)
  • I'll Be Your Mirror - by Nan Goldin, David Armstrong, Hans Werner Holzwarth, Scalo Publishers (October 1996)
  • The Other Side - by Nan Goldin, Powerhouse Cultural Entertainment Inc (April 1993)
  • Nan Goldin - by Guido Costa, Phaidon Press (January 10, 2006)
  • Couples and Loneliness - by Nan Goldin, Korinsha Press; Slipcase edition (April 1999)
  • Tokyo Love: Spring Fever 1994 - by Nan Goldin, Nobuyoshi Araki, Scalo Publishers (September 1995)
  • Nan Goldin: Ten Years After : Naples 1986-1996 - by Nan Goldin, Guido Gosta , Scalo Publishers; 1st Scalo Ed edition (April 1998)
  • Double Life - by Nan Goldin, Armstrong David, Scalo Publishers (March 1994)
  • Vakat - by Nan Goldin, Joachim Sartorius, Verlag Der Buchhandlung Walther Konig (September 1994)
  • El Patio Del Diablo - by Nan Goldin, Phaidon Press (September 22, 2004)

Quick Facts

  • The character of Lucy Berliner (Ally Sheedy) in High Art was based on Goldin's life and work.
  • Her work is most often presented in the form of a slideshow and has been shown at film festivals.
  • Her recent pictures (since 1995) have been of Tokyo youth subcultures, including collaborative book projects with famed Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki.
  • Some critics have accused her of making heroin-use appear glamourous, pioneering a grunge style that later became popularized by youth fashion magazines such as The Face and I-D.

Keywords

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