Born in 1953 in Washington, United States.
Lives and works in New York and Paris.
Nan Goldin began photographing at the age of 15. Her first exhibition of black and white photographs took place in the early 1970s. She received a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1977. She moved to New York in 1978 where she continued to document her ‘extended family’. These photographs became the subject of her slide shows and first book, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, published in 1986. It was groundbreaking work, as she was the first woman to use photography to present the intimate details of her personal life as a public work of art, and inspired a new generation of artists. In 1985 her work was included in the Biennial of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and her importance in the photographic world became significant. In 1987, she began working with Pace/MacGill gallery, New York. In 1989, she curated her first exhibition about AIDS. In 1991 she moved to Berlin, Germany, on a DAAD grant, where she gained international renown in the art world and the world of cinema.
She began working with Scalo in 1992 and put out her second book The Other Side, her work about drag queens from 1972 to 1992. She has participated in many artistic collaborations, including the book A Double Life with her old friend David Armstrong, and the book Tokyo Love with Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, both published in 1994. In 1996, a major retrospective exhibition of her work, I’ll be Your Mirror, opened at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and toured to museums in Europe. At that time, she began working with the Matthew Marks gallery in New York and Yvon Lambert gallery in Paris. She continued to show widely in the US and Europe, and published a number of books.
In 2001 she moved to Paris. Today she works and lives both in Paris and New York. The same year, a second retrospective, Le Feu Follet, was held at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and it travelled under the title Devil’s Playground to the Reina Sofia, Madrid, the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, the Fundação de Serralves, Porto, Castello di Rivoli, Turin, and Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw. In relation to the show, she produced an enormous book, Devil’s Playground, published by Phaidon.
Her multimedia installation Sisters, Saints and Sibyls at the Festival d’automne in 2004 drew the largest attendance ever at the Chapelle Saint-Louis de la Salpêtrière. This piece, a combination of film and still images projected on three screens, is a story of three women trapped in a male hierarchy. It pays homage to her sister Barbara, whose rebellion and suicide have so deeply marked her own life and work. She has continued to create new slide shows, exhibited wideley.
The awards and fellowships Goldin has received include the award of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, Paris, in 2006 and the Medal of the City of Paris in 2004. In 2007, she received the Hasselblad Award, for which Steidl published the book The Beautiful Smile the same year. Others include the Brandeis Award in Photography, 1994, DAAD Artists-in-Residence Programme, Berlin, 1991, The Camera Austria Award, 1989, Kodak Photobook, Arles, 1987, and Englehard Award, Boston, 1986.