Discipline: Visual Art – photography

Nan Goldin

Discipline: Visual Art – photography
Region: New York, London, Berlin

Edward MacDowell Medalist: 2012

Nan Goldin (b. 1953) is an American photographer known for her deeply personal and candid portraiture. As a teenager, she was influenced both by the fashion photography of Helmut Newtonand and Guy Bourdin she saw in magazines, as well as the revelatory portraits by Diane Arbus and August Sander. Goldin captured herself and her friends at their most vulnerable moments, as seen in her seminal photobook Nan Goldin: I’ll Be Your Mirror (1996). Goldin's 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 in 1978, where she had worked mostly with Cibachrome prints. Her work from this period is associated with the Boston School of Photography. Following graduation, she moved to New York, where she began documenting the post-punk new-wave scene, the post-Stonewall gay subculture of the late 70s and 80s, and the hard-drug subculture of the Bowery neighborhood.

Goldin’s images act as a visual autobiography documenting herself and those closest to her, especially in the LGBTQ community. Her work often explores LGBT bodies, moments of intimacy, the HIV crisis, and the opioid epidemic. Her opus The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1980–1986) is a slideshow of snapshots set to music that chronicled her life within the subcultures of New York during the 1980s. The Ballad was first exhibited at the 1985 Whitney Biennial, and was made into a photobook the following year. “For me it is not a detachment to take a picture. It's a way of touching somebody—it's a caress,” she said of the medium. “I think that you can actually give people access to their own soul.”

Goldin has received the French Legion of Honor (2006) and the Hasselblad Award (2007). Today, Goldin’s works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, among others. She currently lives and works between New York and London.