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Nan Goldin


1953 - Washington D.C., U.S.A

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.”  -

Her lush color photography and candid style demand that the viewer go beyond the surface to encounter a profound intensity. As Goldin writes: “Real memory, which these pictures trigger, is an invocation of the color, smell, sound, and physical presence, the density and flavor of life.” Through an accurate and detailed record of her life, Ballad reveals Goldin’s personal odyssey as well as a more universal understanding of the different languages men and women speak, and the struggle between autonomy and dependency. -

In the 1970s, Manhattan’s Lower East Side became the neo-frontier of an adventurous avant garde. Attracted by the cheap rents and dilapidated housing, grass-roots art collectives and club promoters moved in and began staging ad hoc art and music events. Before long this deprived area became synonymous with radical experimentation and transgression. One photographer who witnessed this explosion of creativity was Nan Goldin. Her documentation of the time is now seen as a swansong to this heady era. -


Nancy "Nan" Goldin (born September 12, 1953) is an American photographer. She lives and works in New York City, Berlin, and Paris. Her work usually features LGBT-related themes, images or public figures.Goldin was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in the Boston suburb of Lexington, to middle-class Jewish parents. Goldin’s father worked in broadcasting, and served as the chief economist for the Federal Communications Commission. After attending the nearby Lexington High School, Goldin left home at 13-14. She enrolled at the Satya Community School in Lincoln, where a teacher, philosopher Rollo May’s daughter, introduced her to the camera in 1968.

Latest articles
Nan Goldin's photographs of children – in pictures
After photographing New York's underworld, Nan Goldin has turned her camera on the children she knows best. Fireleap is at the Sprovieri Gallery, London until 9 August
Nan Goldin’s Life in Progress
Just as certain works of literature can radically alter our understanding of language and form, there are a select number of books that can transform our sense of what makes a photograph, and why. Between 1972 and 1992, the Aperture Foundation published three seminal photography books, all by women.
Nan Goldin: ‘My Pictures Show me How Much I Lost’
Now a celebrated American artist, Nan Goldin first broke into the art scene in 1986 with “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency”, a deeply personal visual diary narrating the struggle for intimacy and understanding between her friends, family and lovers.
Desire By Numbers: Photographs by Nan Goldin & Fiction by Klaus Kertess
Tomasz Gudzowaty: Beyond the Body: In the Eyes of Nan Goldin
Nan Goldin (Phaidon 55s)
Eden and After
Nan Goldin: I'll Be Your Mirror
The Devil's Playground
Nan Goldin: Diving for Pearls
Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency