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Nan Goldin

(b. 1953)


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(1953– ).

Photographer. Autobiographical experience fuels most of her raw and refractory expression. Loneliness, alienation, despair, and, ultimately, the search for meaning through human relationships provide her major themes. She is best known for an evolving slide show, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1981 and later). Also presented in book form (1986), the searing images document, sometimes with provocative intimacy, her freewheeling immersion in a subculture of sex, drugs, degradation, and nihilism. Goldin provided an important precedent for many recent artists who use their own histories as the basis of art making in varied media. Born in Washington, D.C., she grew up in Boston, where as a teenager she began photographing her off-limits clique. While studying at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, she first presented the slide show, often shown in clubs to accompaniment of a musical soundtrack, as well as in galleries. Continuing to augment The Ballad, she subsequently lived in New York, but also worked frequently in European cities, particularly Berlin. The AIDS crisis also colored her work, as she photographed ill and dying friends. Travel in Asia in the 1990s documented forays into the alternative scene there. In 1994 she collaborated with Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki on an exhibition and book, both titled Tokyo Love: Spring Fever. By the later 1990s, her newly introspective work occasioned a somewhat less strident tone. Less often picturing antisocial behavior, her images, now including landscapes and still lifes, show the greater formal refinement and probing psychology seen in her 2003 book, The Devil's Playground.

Subjects: Art.


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