Movement: Contemporary Art
“Christmas at the Other Side,” 1972
“The Hug, NYC,” 1980
“Nan and Brian in Bed,” 1981
“Misty and Jimmy Paulette in a Taxi, NYC,” 1991
“Tokyo Love, “ 1994
“Swan-like Embrace,” 2010
“In My Hall, Berlin,” 2013
The American artist Nan Goldin arrived in style on the art scene with her collection of photographs, “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency.” She has since established herself as a photographer who deals with deeply personal experiences in her work.
Early Years and Education
Born to middle-class Jewish parents in Washington D.C., Nan Goldin and her family moved to Lexington during her childhood, where she attended school. She was a rebellious child, and left home at the age of thirteen. Her sister had committed suicide in 1964, and this left the young Goldin deeply disturbed. Two years later, she found herself in Lincoln, and joined the Setya Community School there. It was here she began taking an interest in photography.
Beginnings in Photography
Goldin began taking photographs seriously by the age of eighteen. She fell in with a group of transvestites and transsexuals at around this time, and in 1973 published a series of black and white photographs with them as her subjects. The following year she joined the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She worked with hundreds of her photographs of herself and friends (most of them drag queens), almost all of them intimate portraits detailing their lives on the outskirts of society. Goldin wanted to “show them as a third gender, as another sexual option, a gender option.”
Goldin graduated in 1978, and then moved to New York. Here she fell in with the post-punk scene, and the drug subculture of the city. This resulted in her breakthrough work, “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency,” published as a book in 1987. An extremely personal work, it created a niche for itself in both the art world and in popular culture.
Establishment as an Artist
Goldin continued to inhabit her world on the fringes of ‘normal’ society in the 1990s. She produced another book, “The Family of Nan, 1990-1992,” the dealt with the loss of a number of her friends to the AIDS epidemic.
She travelled to Japan soon after this period, resulting in “Tokyo Love: Spring Fever 1994.” Two years later, a retrospective of her work was held at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
The Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, arranged a travelling exhibition of her work in 2001. One of her most published works, “Devil’s Playground,” came out in 2003, and it includes some of her then recent work from the series “Still on Earth” and “From here to Maternity.” Her recent work has focused on portraits of family life across the world, including parenthood and children.
A hand injury in 2002 has caused a hindrance to her photography, but she continues to produce work. “Chasing a Ghost” was her last exhibition in 2006, and it was a turning point of sorts, as she employed other media besides photography in it, including film and sound.
Nan Goldin lives between New York, Berlin, and Paris.
1953 - Born in Washington D.C.
1974 - Attends Imageworks, Cambridge, MA
1977 - Receives her BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Tufts University, Boston
1978 - Moves to New York
1987 - Wins Photographic Book Prize of the Year from Les Rencontres d’Arles
1988 - Goes into rehab
1992 - Publishes “The Family of Nan”
1994 - Travels to Asia and Japan
2002 - Injures her hand seriously
2014 - Publishes “Eden and After”
1984 - Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia
1987 - Les Rencontres d’Arles, Arles
1991 - Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
1996 - Whitney Museum of Art, New York
2001 - Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
1997 - Galerie Yvonne Lambert
2003 - Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montreal
2006 - Awarded the Légion d’Honneur
2007 - Hasselblad Center, Goteborg
2010 - Musée du Louvre, Paris
2012 - Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro
2015 - Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover
Art Institute of Chicago
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Museum of Modern Art, New York
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
San Francisco Museum of Art
Whitney Museum of Art, New York
Tate Gallery, London
Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo
Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, Torino
Centre Pompidou, Paris
Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague
Goetz Collection, Munich
“Nan Goldin,” by Paulette Gagnon and Éric Mézil
“Emotions and Relations,” by David Armstrong, Mark Morrisoe, Jack Person, and Philip-Lorca di Corcia
“Auto Focus: The Self-Portrait in Contemporary Photography,” by Susan Bright