NAN GOLDIN (B. 1953)
NAN GOLDIN (B. 1953)
NAN GOLDIN (B. 1953)
NAN GOLDIN (B. 1953)
3 More
The Attentive Gaze: Photographs from a Private Collection
NAN GOLDIN (B. 1953)

Nan and Brian in Bed, N.Y.C., 1983

NAN GOLDIN (B. 1953)
Nan and Brian in Bed, N.Y.C., 1983
signed, inscribed, dedicated, titled, numbered and dated 'Hans - Love loves to love love Lots of love N. Nan and Brian in bed. NYC. 1983 Nan Goldin A.P. 3/5' (on the reverse)
Cibachrome print
24 1/2 x 38 in. (62.4 x 96.5 cm.)
Executed in 1983. This work is the third artist's proof aside from an edition of twenty-five plus five artist's proofs.
Anon. sale; Sotheby's, London, 19 May 2017, lot 76
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
N. Goldin, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, New York, 1986, p. 137 (another example illustrated and illustrated on the cover).
H. Als, "Nan Goldin's Life in Progress," The New Yorker, June 2016, n.p. (another example illustrated).
N. Orenstein, J. Rosenheim and S. Pinson, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin: A Centennial Album: Drawings, Prints, and Photographs, vol. 74, no. 3, 2017, p. 12 (another example illustrated).
N. Goldin, "Why 'The Ballad of Sexual Dependency' Endures in the Twenty-First Century," Aperture, March 2022, n.p. (another example illustrated).
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Modern Photographs from the Collection VIII, December 2003-July 2004 (another example exhibited).
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grand Illusions: Staged Photography from the Collection, August-November 2015 (another example exhibited).
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, June 2016-April 2017 (another example exhibited).

Brought to you by

Kathryn Widing
Kathryn Widing Vice President, Senior Specialist, Head of 21st Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

“I'd always believed that if I photographed anything or anyone enough I would never lose them.” - Nan Goldin (Source: Stephen Westfall, ‘The Ballad of Nan Goldin’ Bomb, no. 37, Fall, 1991, p. 31)

The preservation of memory and the bonds of friendship form the foundation of Nan Goldin’s oeuvre. Her work is a love story visually narrated in the most honest terms, equally illustrating basic human emotions of happiness and pain. Never is her work judgmental, but on the contrary, it commends difference and elevates the outsider. She allows both herself and her subjects to be free and vulnerable.

As early as the 1960s, Goldin was developing her visual aesthetic, taking snapshots of her friends while in Satya Community School in Lincoln, Massachusetts, and later taking cues from the fashion spreads of Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton. Although unaware, Goldin’s early images are emblematic of the work she is today so acclaimed for. Becoming estranged from her family at a young age contributed to Goldin’s need to form close familial ties and informed her approach to photography. Her friends became her surrogate family, tempering the void resulting from the loss of her older sister in 1964.

Two major connections contributed to Goldin’s early success, one was meeting photographer and educator Henry Horenstein who recognized the potential of her work and introduced her to the work of Larry Clark which had a profound impact on her creative outlook; secondly meeting curator, then dealer, Marvin Heiferman who incorporated her work in multiple exhibitions at Castelli Graphics. Goldin’s work stood out for its intimate subject matter, vivid color intensified by artificial lighting, and her ability to stage her work within a cinematic-like narrative, which translated perfectly in her iconic slide show presentations.

First showing her work in a slide show format to get credit while in the Boston Museum School, she returned to this method consistently after moving to New York in 1978. Goldin’s first slide shows were silent but later included live music or recorded accompaniment, and no show was ever identical. In 1981, after finally perfecting her presentations, she showcased her celebrated work-The Ballad of Sexual Dependency which would become not only a defining work, but the basis for her landmark book of the same name published in 1986. The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, a title taken from a song from The Three penny Opera by Kurt Weill-Bertolt Brecht, depicted the grungy punk period of the1980s and demonstrated that photography was the perfect medium to accurately present the idiosyncrasies of a culture mixed with love, sex, and drugs. In this vein, it was only fitting that this present lot offered here Nan and Brian in Bed, NYC., was chosen as the book’s cover.

Nan Goldin and her boyfriend Brian’s relationship was passionate, intensely sexual, and at times violent. They were dependently intertwined with one another, “He was beautiful at the time, and I fell in love with him,” Nan recalled in a recent interview (Laura Poitras, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, 2022). Nan and Brian were together from 1981 to 1984, this portrait was taken just about a year before their tumultuous break-up. Nan lays huddled with a pillow, her eyes fixed on Brian who sits on the edge of the bed dragging on a cigarette, his arched back dominating the space. Nan is encompassed by Brian mentally and even physically, literally sandwiched between his material presence and his image peering down behind her on the wall. If the viewer knew nothing about this couple, they would instinctively detect an apparent apprehension in the eyes of the woman, but also a longing. Nan’s reverent gaze and the glow illuminating Brian’s face make him god-like- otherworldly, an unobtainable being. Although they are less than a foot away from one another, emotionally they are miles apart. “I often fear that men and women are irrevocably strangers to each other, irreconcilably unsuited, almost as if they were from different planets. But there is an intense need for coupling in spite of it all. Even if relationships are destructive, people cling together” (The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, p.7). Nan’s words aptly describe her nuanced life with Brian and the destruction it inevitably brought, Brian leaving Nan battered and bruised with shattered bones in her face. The ballad was over.

The lot on offer here is a brilliant, rich Cibachrome print, a color process known for its saturated colors and glossy surface. This third artist’s proof of five is particularly special for it includes a personal inscription on the verso by the artist to her friend Hans, ‘Love loves to love love Lots of love N.’ Prints of this image are found in the illustrious collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art; and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

More from Post-War & Contemporary Art Day Sale

View All
View All