Nan Goldin

Eumenis Megalopoulos | Feb 6, 2024

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Nancy "Nan" Goldin (b. September 12, 1953, Washington, D.C.) is an American photographer.

Nan Goldin was born in Washington DC in 1953 but grew up in Boston, where she attended the School of the Musem of Fine Arts. She has lived in New York since 1978, where she has established herself as one of the most important exponents of an art that advocates a complete identification of art with life.

By the age of 18, she was using photography as a "public diary," which is why Nan Goldin's work cannot be separated from her life. Marked by the suicide of her 18-year-old sister in 1965, she began her photographic work by photographing her own family. She remains forever very close to the family album both in technique and subjects chosen. For the artist, photography is a personal therapy. She herself says that photography saved her, because every time she was afraid or experienced something terrible, photography helped her, allowed her to survive and helped the survival of the weights, which, through memory, brought back to life the people and moments lost.

The artist's themes represent the sorrows and joys of life, they are characters isolated from society, but who through the artist demonstrate a sensitivity, a strong character, an eccentricity that conquers through the abandonment of love. Nan photographs life and knows how to create unique subjects, but at the same time joyful, passionate, curious and always human. It is these characters, Nan's friends and acquaintances, their lives that are outside the conventional canon, that influence Nan's poetics. The artist also draws inspiration from the paintings of Rotko, the works of Richard Todd and the paintings of Caravaggio. Light is rediscovered by the artist in many of her works.

His photography brings drugs and addiction, sex between teenagers and mature children, homosexuality to the level of art, but these images are by no means vulgar, but very real. It neither highlights nor hides the drama.

The period in which she is gripped by grief over the tragic and untimely deaths of many of her friends leads her to reconsider her own life. She goes through some inner crises, but does not hesitate to enter rehabilitation centres. Nor does she stop photographing. These experiences give her the opportunity to portray a painful vision of life, expressed in a metaphorical way. At the same time, Nan maintains a positive worldview, which is expressed in some intimate photographs.

She is an artist whose work impresses, depicting a world of showbiz transvestite addicts, battered women, but also loving, human photographs in which the values of the universe are present, portraying life as it sometimes is, depressing and tragic.

One sees his entire entourage going through life: old age, love, death, childhood follow one another within seconds of each successive image. This group of people close to her, many of whom have disappeared, seems to be caught up in a conspiracy orchestrated by death.

Nan Goldin observes the transgressive side hidden in city life with an intimate and personal approach. Private memories become works of art only after the decision to exhibit them. She captures friends and acquaintances in her photographs, even herself as in her famous self-portrait a month after being beaten. Her style becomes an icon of her difficult generation and this develops after the expansion of the sidei which questions her belief in the power of images expressing clearly who she is only to those who knew the lost.

Goldin understands photography to document the daily lives of his HIV-positive friends in terms of social and political valence and organizes the first major AIDS exhibition in New York in 1989.

Goldin's main subject is as a loving memorial to a community devastated by drug addiction and AIDS. The powerful, large size (76.2 x 101.6 cm) colors of the Cibachrome prints made Goldin both a leader in the phenomenal expansion of color photography in contemporary art in the 1980s, as well as an inspiration to other artists in the 1990s. In 1996 the Whitney Museum dedicated its first major retrospective to him entitled "I'll Be Your Mirror". During the 1990s, Nan Goldin's photography caught the optimism depicting gay life in the big cities she frequented. Among those images were many photographs of children, who witnessed the artist's newfound will to live.

In 2001 he made a new slide show that is another intimate reflection on love relationships with a series of children captured during the act of love.

Often attacked for its choice of themes, the 1999 exhibition "Contacts" deals with the condition of the human being, pain, the ability to survive and how difficult it is.

Nan Goldin presents his images projecting slides edited throughout his life, accompanied by a soundtrack ranging from punk to opera music, featuring Nan Goldin's friends. The sequence is used to set the exhibition at the Burden Gallery, New York and published in the book "The Ballad", which tells of human relationships and feelings at the limits of the desire for freedom and the need for emotional connection. It attempts to suggest the differences between spontaneous and constructed scenes, the lasting and ephemeral sides of youth and beauty destined to be consumed by the passage of time and illness until they disappear. Nan Goldin stands out thanks to a very personal style and an innovative poetics. Her photographs, even if they give the impression of having been stolen, were never taken with the subject too close to result in surprise.

What starts as a slideshow for his friends has turned into hundreds and hundreds of photos, a visual diary. The ballad opens with images of couples, which quickly turns into a series of photos of women, many of them naked and alone. The slideshow begins on Velvet Underground, I'll be your mirror. There are also a series of shots of women looking in the mirror, people smoking, empty beds, characters on heroin, children, Nan's friends, Nan looking in the mirror, or various lovers, tearful, dark-eyed.

The slideshow is organized thematically rather than chronologically, so photos captured only a moment apart appear at different ends of the work.


  1. Nan Goldin
  2. Nan Goldin
  3. ^ By. ""Sacklers Lie, Thousands Die": P.A.I.N. Against Big Pharma". Pioneer Works. Retrieved April 28, 2022.
  4. ^ "Nan Goldin". Retrieved December 16, 2022.
  5. ^ Great women artists. Phaidon Press. 2019. p. 155. ISBN 978-0714878775.
  6. ^ "Nan Goldin | Biography, Art, Documentary, Movie, & Facts | Britannica". December 2, 2023.
  7. ^  Lipsește sau este vid: |title= (ajutor)
  8. ^  Lipsește sau este vid: |title= (ajutor)
  9. ^ Nel 1986 è stato pubblicato come libro fotografico, definito un "diario visivo". Cfr.: (EN) Nan Goldin, The ballad of sexual dependency, New York, Aperture Foundation, 1986, ISBN 978-0-89381-236-2.
  10. ^ a b Schwartz, p. 622.
  11. ^ (EN) “Sacklers Lie, Thousands Die”: P.A.I.N. Against Big Pharma, su URL consultato il 29 agosto 2022.
  12. ^ Phaidon Editors, Great women artists, Phaidon Press, 2019, p. 155, ISBN 978-0714878775.
  13. (en-GB) Sean O'Hagan, « Nan Goldin: 'I wanted to get high from a really early age' », The Observer,‎ 23 mars 2014 (ISSN 0029-7712, lire en ligne, consulté le 7 novembre 2017).
  14. a et b (en) The Advocate, 15 oct. 1996, p. 68.

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