Nan Goldin


Nan Goldin Biography


Born in Washington, D.C., Nan Goldin was introduced to photography at the age of fifteen by a teacher who passed out Polaroid cameras to students at the progressive Satya Community School in Boston. She began taking black-and-white photographs of her friends in the transvestite community of Boston in the early 1970s and had her first solo show at Project, Inc. in Boston in 1973. She received a B.F.A. from Tufts University in 1977 and an additional Fifth Year Certificate in 1978. As she progressed through school, she began using bright Cibachrome prints.

After moving to New York, the setting for many of her most renowned photographs, she quickly became involved in the downtown New Wave scene, presenting slide shows of her images accompanied by music at punk rock venues such as the Mudd Club and later at art spaces. The ever-growing body of images she used in these slide shows formed the basis of The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1980–86). This series, with its snapshot-style portrayals of amorous or abusive couples, drug addiction, and intimate details of the artist's life, established Goldin as a major photographer when selections were shown at theBiennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 1985. It was also presented at film festivals, such as the Edinburgh and Berlin festival (1985 and 1986, respectively). The life depicted in The Ballad of Sexual Dependency took its toll; many of the subjects of the series had died by the early 1990s, and in 1988 Goldin herself entered a rehabilitation clinic. She continued to candidly document her life, however, incorporating her hospital experiences into her work. Over time, her photographs have moved from representations of destructive youthful abandon to, most recently, scenes of parenthood and domesticity in increasingly international settings. In 1994, she published Tokyo Love, a series of images of Tokyo youth, in collaboration with Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki.

Goldin's numerous solo exhibitions include a mid-career retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1996) and Le Feu Follet, a traveling retrospective organized by the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (2001). In 1995, she made a film for the BBC, I'll Be Your Mirror, with Edmund Coulthard and Ric Colon. Goldin has received the Englehard Award from the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston (1986), the Photographic Book Prize of the Year from Les Rencontres d'Arles (1987), the Camera Austria Prize for Contemporary Photography (1989), the Mother Jones Documentary Photography Award (1990), and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (1991). In 1991, she received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and was a DAAD artist-in-residence in Berlin.