Inspiration Files - Nan Goldin

And now for some work that inspires me as an artist and image maker.  If you haven't heard of Nan Goldin, take some time to look through her incredible body of work.  Her portraits are arresting.  Her slideshows are moving.  Her grids are fascinating.  


“Empty Beds, Boston,” 1979, © Nan Goldin

“Empty Beds, Boston,” 1979, © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin is not interested in pleasing you.  Or humoring a curator's flattery.  She's interested in photographing the people she loves. In honoring their lives. Their loves.  In exploring the corners.  At some point someone said that corners get rounded by love.  This image stands in my mind. 

Suzanne and Mark dancing, Lexington, MA, 1979,  © Nan Goldin

Suzanne and Mark dancing, Lexington, MA, 1979,  © Nan Goldin

I have loved the work of nan Goldin since I first saw it in a gallery in Chelsea in the mid 90s when my mother and I drove to New York to look at colleges.  I was mesmerized.  

And 25 years later, I still am.  

“Picnic on the Esplanade, Boston,” 1973, © Nan Goldin

“Picnic on the Esplanade, Boston,” 1973, © Nan Goldin

This fall The Portland Museum of Art had a retrospective of her work, which I lost myself in.  I was also able to see her speak in a panel conversation with the curator and a collector.  She is amazing. Smart, funny, irreverent, compassionate, inclusive - all the the things I aim for.  

The Sisters, Boston, 1978, © Nan Goldin

The Sisters, Boston, 1978, © Nan Goldin

I didn't have my notebook with me (what was I thinking?!) so I scribbled notes on a napkin so I wouldn't forget the things she said.  She talked about how her work was really for the people in the photographs and the people who love them.  These visual diaries are both a personal and public document.  The collector spoke of her work describing the intellectual rigor behind the sensuality of the portraits - that this work spoke to him.  And, he pointed out, there's really no reason to own anything that doesn't speak to you.  

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