Cookie and Sharon Dancing at the Back Room, Provincetown, MA

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Object Details


Nan Goldin, American, born 1953




Dye destruction print


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Gift of Lucinda W. Bunnen for the Bunnen Collection

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One of the most important photographers of her generation, Nan Goldin is an artist whose personal life is at the center of her art. Her Cookie Portfolio documents her intimate friendship with Cookie Mueller. In the top photograph, we see Cookie dancing jubilantly with her friend and lover Sharon. The bottom photograph, made thirteen years later, strikes a far more somber note as we see Sharon sitting at the front of the bed, disconnected from a frail-appearing Cookie, who lies underneath her wedding picture. Cookie’s husband, Vittorio, died from AIDS the month this picture was made, and Cookie would die two months later. Despite the palpable loss sensed in the distance between these two works, Goldin conveys the steadfastness and tenderness of female friendship and support, which also infused her process: “I’m looking with a warm eye, not a cold eye. I’m not analyzing what’s going on—I just get inspired to take a picture by the beauty and vulnerability of my friends.”