First as a teenager in Boston in the 1960s, then in New York starting in the 1970s, Nan Goldin has taken intensely personal, spontaneous, sexual, and transgressive photographs of her family, friends, and lovers. In 1979 she presented her first slideshow in a New York City nightclub, and her richly colored, snap-shot-like photographs were soon heralded as a groundbreaking contribution to fine art photography. The Ballad of Sexual Dependency—the name she gave her ever-evolving show—eventually grew into a forty-five-minute multimedia presentation of more than 900 photographs, accompanied by a musical soundtrack, and published as an award-winning book.
Goldin’s work has been the subject of major touring retrospectives, organized in 1996 by the Whitney Museum of American Art, and in 2001, by the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. Her work has been exhibited widely, often in site-specific installations: her video piece Sisters, Saints, and Sibyls was presented at La Chapelle de la Salpêtrière for a 1-month run; her Scopophilia exhibition was part of Patrice Chéreau’s special program at the Louvre; and in 2019, an exhibition of site-responsive photographs opened at Versailles. The Ballad of Sexual Dependency was presented live in Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, London, in 2008, and the slideshow was installed in the exhibition Here is Every. Four Decades of Contemporary Art at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, September 2008 to March 2009. In 2017, MoMA presented the piece in its original 35mm format.
Goldin was admitted to the French Legion of Honor in 2006, received the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in 2007, and was presented the Lucie Award in 2014 for Outstanding Achievement in Portraiture. She lives and works in Paris, Berlin, and New York.