Nan Goldin


Nan Goldin (b. 1953) is unquestionably one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. She began her career in the 1970s, as she took candid shots of her circle of friends, frequently drag queens and trans women. 

"Pawel’s back, East Hampton Morning” is an intimate image taken in the late 1990s of her friend Pawel. Pawel is a recurring subject in Nan Goldin's work. In 1996, she represented him laughing, full of emotions and life. However, this picture portrays him asleep and illuminated by the coastal sunlight.

Besides its vibrant palette of colours, the composition is unusual for Nan Goldin’s work. Pawel is represented from behind, and his back is still marked by the folds of the bed sheets. Is she trying to show his vulnerability? While this is an iconic image in Goldin's oeuvre, it is also an anomaly as the viewer's face is not at all present. Which raises an interesting question: what does a portrait have to depict in order to be successful? 

Goldin's images are typically very direct. Unlike say Robert Mapplethorpe or William Eggleston, Goldin rarely emphasized the abstract qualities of her compositions or subjects. 

Some of Goldin's most heartbreaking images were created in the mid-90's as many in her immediate social circle succumbed to AIDS related health issues. Yet Goldin is very careful in how she depicted the AIDS crisis and the people who were affected by it. She avoids sensationalism or horror, preferring to honor and dignify her subjects and not allowing their health status to eclipse their importance in the artist's life. 

Questions about this artwork? Contact us or call +1.416.704.1720 

Signed and dated in ink by the artist on verso

Oversized cibachrome print

38.5”W 26”H (photograph)

40.5"W 31"H (framed)

Framed with museum UV-protected plexiglass. 

USA, 1996

Very good condition 

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