Nan Goldin

Legendary photographer turning her sights on the ethics of patronage

The influence of the artist behind The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1985) is undiminished, especially when so much art of late explores themes that play out in Goldin’s photography: identity, feelings, community, mental health, degradation. Yet the archetypal New York downtown artist enters this list not only for her artmaking – which featured in a solo show at the Château d’Hardelot, Condette, and with Diana Arbus and Brassaï at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, this year – but also for her battle with the Sackler family, giants of arts patronage. Goldin, who suffered opioid addiction after being prescribed the painkiller OxyContin, accuses Purdue Pharma, which is owned by the Sacklers, of an aggressive marketing campaign leading to the death of more than 200,000 people (the Sackler family and the company deny the allegation). Goldin, in recovery, has a new drive: in September Marian Goodman announced that the artist had joined the gallery’s ranks.