Nan Goldin, the U.S. Artist Whose Salient Activism Took Down the Sacklers, Has Ditched Dealer Marian Goodman to Work With Gagosian

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Nan Goldin, whose art and activism inspired an award-winning documentary “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” is joining the Gagosian roster, the gallery announced today.

The move is a blow to Marian Goodman Gallery, which has represented the groundbreaking photographer since 2018 and recently also lost Gerhard Richter, its star of almost four decades, to David Zwirner, another mega-gallery rival. (Gagosian for years pursued Richter too.)

Goldin, 69, is known for her intimate portraits of the LGBT community during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and, more recently, her crusade against the Sackler family and its bankrolling of major cultural institutions. In 2018, Goldin went public about her personal narrow escape from opioid addiction. She founded a group called P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now), and became an outspoken critic of the family behind Purdue Pharma LP, the maker of opioid OxyContin.

P.A.I.N’s well-documented protests at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, and the Louvre led the institutions to cut ties with the Sackler family and remove the names of its members from their walls. TIME magazine included Goldin among its 100 “Most Influential” people of 2022. “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” directed by Laura Poitras, won the top prize, the Golden Lion, at the Venice Film Festival, last year. It was a contender for an Oscar in the documentary film category this year (but lost to Daniel Roher’s about the persecuted Russian opposition leader.)  

Goldin declined to comment on the departure from Marian Goodman, and Gagosian didn’t give the reason for her switch. The artist was said to have been looking for a mega-gallery—and a large upfront payment against future sales, according to a person familiar with the situation. Another clue may lie in Andrew Leslie Heyward, a Gagosian director in New York, who had worked with the artist at Matthew Marks gallery, and later wooed her away to Marian Goodman.

Despite the rise of her public profile, Goldin remains undervalued by the market relative to her male counterparts as well as younger female artists, the predicament of many of her peers. Her auction record is $284,500, established in 2002, according to Artnet Price Database. Many of her photographs come in big editions—of 15 and 25—and there are often inconsistencies in the size of the works and of the editions, the person said. Her primary prices recently ranged from $15,000 to $50,000, depending on where the images are in the edition. The mega-gallery switch may be able to provide just what Goldin needs to turbo-charge her market. 

Gagosian didn’t say when and where Goldin’s first show with the gallery will take place. She will continue working with San Francisco-based Fraenkel Gallery, which specializes in photography.

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