Collection Artwork
Nan Goldin (born Washington, DC, 1953)
Nan on Brian's lap, Nan's birthday, New York City 1981 [from The Ballad of Sexual Dependency]
Cibachrome print
paper size: 11 x 14 in.
9 1/8 x 13 5/8 in.
The Jack Shear Collection of Photography at the Tang Teaching Museum
photographed in New York, New York, United States, North America
Stamped, verso: NAN GOLDIN / The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, 1973-86 / A portfolio of 126 Cibachrome photographs / This is edition ___ of 10
Handwritten, verso, above underscore of previous inscription: 3

Installation views

Object Labels

“I used to think that I could never lose anyone if I photographed them enough. In fact, my pictures show me how much I’ve lost.”
—Nan Goldin

Eager to record everyday moments through her camera lens, Nan Goldin created a visual diary of her and her friends experiencing love, sex, abuse, addiction, pain, joy, and illness. Throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, Goldin lived and traveled a bohemian life in and out of Boston, New York, Provincetown, Berlin, Mexico City, London, and elsewhere.

The photographs’ saturated color and snapshot quality makes them feel at once intimate and truthful yet also romantic, sometimes even otherworldly. But the people and their stories are unstaged and fraught with contradiction. Cookie Mueller is shown seemingly alone at a bar, at her wedding to Vittorio Scarpati, and with her son, Max. She sold cocaine and used heroin, opium, and other drugs; she was a wife, a mother, an actress, a writer, bisexual. Cookie and Vittorio would both die in 1989 from AIDS-related causes. Greer Lankton died of a drug overdose in 1996. Nan survived; so did Suzanne. These words, like the photographs, are mere glimpses.

From the exhibition: Beauty and Bite (July 20, 2019 – January 19, 2020)

A smiling Nan Goldin sits on the lap of her then-boyfriend Brian; another photograph in Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency depicts her face, bruised, after he beat her.

From the exhibition: Where Words Falter: Art and Empathy (July 9 – December 18, 2022)

Ongoing Research

Research on our collection is ongoing. If you have resources you’d like to share, please contact Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara.
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