National Museum of Women in the Arts
Nan Goldin
September 12 1953 - present
Photograph of Nan Goldin, 2005, by John Marchant, courtesy of Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, NY, USA
Place of Birth:
Phonetic Spelling:
nan GOHL-dihn
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Work Type/Media:
Multimedia (electronic, digital, video, film), Photography
Artistic Role(s):
Photographer, Video Artist
Artist's Statement:
Nan Goldin’s photographic gift lies in the telling of her story. Assuming the mantle of the engaged documentarian, she has spent the past two decades photographing herself and an extended family of friends coping with the modern mythology of romance.

Born in Washington, DC in the Eisenhower Fifties, Goldin grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. The youngest of four children in a middle-class family, she was especially close to her sister, Barbara, who committed suicide when Goldin was eleven years old. Rebellious like Barbara before her, Goldin left home by the age of fourteen, and by nineteen she had found a new family of like-minded friends in Boston, Massachusetts.

Unschooled in photography, Goldin decided to attend classes at the School of the Musuem of Fine Arts, where she befriended Mark Morrisroe and David Armstrong (several years later this school would become known as the Boston School).

By the time she had completed her degree, she had already begun work on what would eventually become The Ballad of Sexual Dependence--a slide show of friends that captured the essence of Provincetown’s gay scene in the late 1970s. Over the years the work’s slide track has evolved to include more than seven hundred images arranged by subject, accompanied by a music soundtrack and a point of view. With its rhythm of cross-fading images, it functions more like a documentary film than a slide show. Its root, however, lies in the family slide shows of vacations and other happy scenes practiced in so many middle-class US households in the 1960s and 1970s, even if Goldin’s Zeitgeist is anathema to that time and culture.

From Boston, Goldin moved to New York in 1978 and immersed herself in the downtown art and punk scene in its heyday. Goldin has since produced related series and books, including The Other Side (1993), A Double Life (1994), with David Armstrong, and Ten Years After (1998). In 1996, Goldin’s art was the subject of a major retrospective, I’ll Be Your Mirror, at the Whitney Museum of Art.

Place(s) of Residence:
New York
Where Trained/Schools:
School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA (1974-1977)
Related Visual Artists:
friend of David Armstrong friend of Mark Morrisroe friend of Suzanne Fletcher friend of Jack Pierson friend of Philip Lorca DiCorcia
Fellowships, grants and awards:
International Award in Photography, Erna and Victor Hasselblad Foundation, Göteborg, Sweden (2007) Photographer of the Year, 2002 Photo España Festival, Madrid, Spain (2002) Brandeis Award in Photography, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, USA (1994)
Earliest exhibition:
Picture/Photograph, Castello Graphics, New York, NY, USA (1979)
NMWA exhibition(s):
Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987-1997
Defining Eye: Women Photographers of the 20th Century
Steven Scott Collects: Donations and Promised Gifts to the Permanent Collection
Artist retrospective(s):
Nan Goldin: Devil's Playground, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France (2001) I'll Be Your Mirror, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, USA (1996)
Self-Portrait in Kimono with Brian, NYC, 1983