Nan Goldin Is Now on Instagram, the Perfect Platform for Her Deeply Personal Photographs

The artist's intimate photographs can be read as a precursor to the age of social media.

Nan Goldin attends the Award Ceremony during day ten of the 61st Berlin International Film Festival at the Berlinale Palace on February 19, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Artist Nan Goldin, who rose to fame in the 1980s on the strength of her intimate photographs of herself and her friends, is the latest artist to embrace Instagram. On December 14, the account @nanoldinstudio shared its first post, a warmly lit shot of a couple in bed, captioned “Joey and Andres in Hotel, Askanischer Hof, Berlin 1992.” A representative from Goldin’s studio confirmed that the account belongs to the artist.

Today, Goldin’s photos feel like they were ahead of their time. The images presage the blurring of private and public moments that characterize the Instagram age, where so many of us feel compelled to share photographs and status updates tracking our every action, from burgeoning relationships to the smoothie we drank for breakfast.

As recent as last year, Goldin seemed anxious about being on social media. “I’m not responsible for anything like social media, am I? Tell me I’m not,” Goldin asked the New York Times. “It can’t be true, but if it is, I feel terrible.”

At the time, her most famous piece, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, a confessional autobiography of a work featuring a slideshow set to music of over 700 photographs of Goldin and her friends, was on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. There, it became something of a trend for visitors to share photos of the exhibition on Instagram with the hashtag #NanGoldin, which has been used over 18,000 times to date.

The deeply personal images embrace taboo subjects such as drugs, sex, and death—the artist was working in New York’s East Village at the heights of the AIDS crisis. In the best-known shot, an arresting close-up titled Nan One Month After Being Battered, Goldin bears the physical traces of the abuse of a boyfriend, her left eye blackened and bruised.

Nan Goldin, Nan One Month After Being Battered (1984). Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, © 2016 Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Nan One Month After Being Battered (1984), from The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. Photo courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, © 2016 Nan Goldin.

So far, Goldin’s account has shared eight images—a blend of her own work and pieces from art history, as well as a photo of herself at a party in Milan earlier this year. She already has over 1,500 followers. She follows in the footsteps of acclaimed Pictures Generation photographer Cindy Sherman, who made headlines when she signed up for the popular app in August.

See more images from her account below.


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