NAN GOLDIN (B. 1953)
Nan after being battered, 1984
Cibachrome print, flush-mounted on board
signed, titled, dated and numbered '13/25' in ink (flush mount, verso); credited, titled, dated and numbered on affixed gallery label (frame backing board)
sheet/flush mount: 2714 x 3912 in. (69.2 x 100.3 cm.)
This work is number thirteen from an edition of twenty-five.
Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco;
acquired from the above by the present owner, 1995.
Exhibition catalogue, Nan Goldin: I'll Be Your Mirror, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1996, pgs. 198-199.
Exhibition catalogue, Nan Goldin: This Will Not End Well, Steidl, Gottingen, 2022, p. 85.
Exhibition catalogue, Fantastic Tales: Photography of Nan Goldin, Palmer Museum of Art in association with The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, 2005, p. 8, and pl. 13, p. 59,
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Lot Essay

"We we’re so intertwined we didn’t know how to break up…so this was his way of breaking up."
-Nan Goldin
Goldin is one of the most admired artists of our time. Her intimate, and often times intense depictions of the underbelly of 1980s New York scene are arguably some of the most authentic works ever made. 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. By the 1980s, she was known for her unorthodox slideshow presentations, a quintessential one of her career, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, became not only a defining work of her oeuvre, but the basis for her landmark book of the same name published in 1986.

Goldin’s work is her, it cannot be considered absent from the life she’s lived, and the people she has loved. Although this lot offered here, Nan after being battered, 1984, is devoid of others, the presence of her lover, Brian is palpable in the scars and bruises that cover Nan’s face. Nan and Brian were together from 1981 to 1984, their relationship was full of passion as well as dependency on each other. In 1984, the year they broke up, Nan traveled to Berlin where she was set to present one of her infamous slideshows. Brian followed her there. After visiting a bar together, Brian got wind of Nan’s romantic involvement with another partner and exploded into a jealous rage, punching Nan repeatedly in the face, deliberately targeting her eyes. Brian broke all of the bones in the orbital floor of Goldin’s eye. This was an explosive and bitter end to their relationship; she admitted “We we’re so intertwined we didn’t know how to break up […] so this was his way of breaking up” (Laura Poitras, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, 2022).

This powerful self-portrait printed as a rich Cibachrome with a pristine surface quality and vibrant colors – is a statement to men and women who have been the victims of violence. Nan looks out at the viewer with a mixture of pain and shame but most of all strength and perseverance. She wears earrings, red popping lipstick and her beloved pearl necklace, this is not a portrait of a woman defeated. In fact, she remarked her portraits of herself battered was what kept her from going back to Brian. Turning the camera on herself, in one of the most vulnerable times of her life, empowered other women who were victims of violence. Surely even today this portrait inspires the nearly twenty people per minute who are physically abused by an intimate partner in the US. ( As such, this self-portrait stands not only as an incredible example of Nan’s practice but also a beacon of hope for those who can relate to her experience.

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