New York

Nan Goldin

Whitney Museum of American Art

There can be little doubt that Nan Goldin has over the last decade become a cultural and commercial force majeure. Whether in galleries or museums, Goldin’s dramatically naturalistic pictures of herself, her friends, and their variously charmed and scabrous, festive and tragic lives draw rapt crowds. If The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, 1981–96, the artist’s evolving slide-show-set-to-music, is on the program, a fervor of expectancy seems to permeate the environment as viewers—many of them young, many looking like would-be members of Goldin’s elective bohemian “family”—flock into a dark sanctuary as if pilgrims at Lourdes. On the last day of “Nan Goldin: I’ll Be Your Mirror,” the artist’s recent Whitney Museum retrospective, I found myself having to plead in order to squeeze into a jam-packed room for a final look at All by Myself, 1995–96, a five-and-a-half-minute-long slide show of Goldin

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