Nan Goldin, Blue, 2016

nan goldin's little-seen drawings are on view for the first time

blood on my hands — a show now on view in New York City — reveals how Nan Goldin’s diaries impact the work she makes today.

by Emily Manning
09 November 2016, 9:45am

Nan Goldin, Blue, 2016

In the gripping, emotional foreward to The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, Nan Goldin refers to her seminal 1986 tome as "the diary I let people read." Unsurprisingly, Goldin — a compulsive visual chronicler of deeply intimate moments — has kept diaries all her life. "I still do, but not like I used to do," she told Steven Westfall in a conversation published by BOMB magazine. "I used to write while people were talking to me. I needed to write down everything. The thing is, a lot of it you can't even read because I was so drunk. I wrote down everything and I haven't reread any of it."

Nan Goldin: the boy with the blue chip on his shoulder

Nan Goldin, The blue boy with the chip on his shoulder, NY, August 2016, 2016

For her new solo show, blood on my hands, Goldin often drew pictures in her childhood journals. And while she might not have re-read any of them, such urgent journaling has impacted the artwork she makes today.

Recently, Goldin's drawings have become independent works of art, debuted in public for the first time at blood on my hands — now on show at Matthew Marks Gallery. "Emerging from her regular practice of daily reflection, they share the charged emotional atmosphere of her photographs," the release reads, "but their symbolic imagery, handwritten texts, and complex surfaces, made with a variety of mediums, introduce an expressive element that is new to her work."

Nan Goldin: Black

Nan Goldin, Black,2016

Goldin's blood on my hands pieces capture such expressive elements chiefly through evocative colour. One of Goldin's works on display combines fields of rich evergreens, deep moody blues, and pale lavenders. Colour is the unifying element in the photographs debuted in blood on my hands, too. Goldin presents them by combining multiple images in a single large-scale grid, a format she has worked with for over 20 years. These grids are blue, pink, gold, black, and red — each colour weaving together moments Goldin has captured throughout her 40-year career.

Nan Goldin: The Cyclops

Nan Goldin, The cyclops, Berlin/NY, September 2016, 2016

Elisabeth Sussman,The Whitney Museum's Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography, sees an important parallel between these grids and Goldin's slide shows, the format in which Ballad was first shown in 1985 (and in which it's presently being shown at MoMA, set to its original soundtrack of Maria Callas and Velvet Underground). "The grid, an echo of the slide show, sums up her view that history and time exist as an aggregate of individual lives," Sussman writes in the release, underscoring Goldin's decade-spanning fascination with obsession and dependency.

'blood on my hands' is on view at Matthew Marks Gallery through December 23, 2016. More information here.

Nan Goldin: Red

Nan Goldin, Red, 2016