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PRINT October 2002

GOLDIN’S YEARS: NAN GOLDIN IN RETROSPECT

A year ago this month NAN GOLDIN’s retrospective began a six-venue tour at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. As the exhibition draws to a close this winter, LISA LIEBMANN reexamines the career of an artist whose oeuvre is inextricably bound up with her biography.

Nan Goldin is more than a good or significant photographer, more than a widely celebrated one. She has over the past couple of decades become nothing less than a cultural force majeure—a “monstre,” in the sense of sacré, as she was described in Connaissance des arts last fall when her current traveling retrospective opened in Paris at the Centre Georges Pompidou. In America, Goldin’s vast and relentlessly personal body of images has often been jokingly referred to as “The Family of Nan,” in part because so many of the pictures convey, and even awaken, feelings, at once empathic and vicarious, of collective intimacy. Not, perhaps, since Edward Steichen spread his globalist’s honey in the mid-’50s has an accumulation of photographs connected with so many viewers on so deep an emotional level. Goldin’s signature shots—slices of a vie de bohème now all but extinct in Lower Manhattan—have been

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