Was Nan Goldin’s shooting at the Louvre a fundamental step toward a new approach to old masters?

The sad sight on a sad reality that has made Nan Golding’s photography so familiar to all the bohemians of the world, finally reached its paradise lost. It happened in 2010, when Nan has been allowed for a certain period of time to visit the Musée du Louvre in Paris with her camera. Every Tuesday, when the museum is closed to the general public, she would walk around alone – or almost alone – looking at paintings, drawings and sculptures basically with a precise instinct: that of setting parallels between these pictures and her real-life based pictures.

The series then produced is titled “Schopofilia”. It was exhibited at the Louvre in winter 2010, and at Matthew Marks’ gallery in New York the year after. At that time the New York Times wrote: “your first impression is that Ms. Goldin can make even the stuffiest academic exercises look punkish and sexy. But after spending some time in the show you may find that her own work looks cloistered and salonlike”. We don’t think so, and the new exhibition of this series at Gasosian in Rome proves that four years later this work is still fresh and those parallels extremely interesting.

Except for the belgian art dealer Axel Vervoordt – who started a few years before to work on the relation between old masters and contemporary artists – in 2010 no one did care about this relationship. The first edition of Frieze Masters took place two years after in London, in 2012. Martin Roth was appointed director of the V&A in September 2011, and it took two years for having Elmgreen&Dragset’ solo show at the museum (2013). In June 2011 Bice Curiger introduced her exhibition at the Venice Biennial with two extraordinary paintings by Tintoretto. Now the question: is it enough to consider the 61-year-old photographer now living between Paris, Berlin and New York one of the earliest promoters of what today has become a main trend? Thanks Nan.

November 12, 2019