The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book Fantastic Tales

Fantastic Tales

The Photography of Nan Goldin Edited by Jonathan Weinberg, and Edited by Joyce Henri Robinson
  • Copyright: 2005
  • Dimensions: 7 x 10
  • Page Count: 109 pages
  • Illustrations: 44 color illustrations
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-911209-63-1
  • Distributed by the Penn State Press
    for Palmer Museum of Art

“We all tell stories which are versions of history—memorized, encapsulated, repeatable, and safe. Stories can be rewritten, memory can’t. If each picture is a story, then the accumulation of these pictures comes closer to the experience of memory, a story without end.” —Nan Goldin

This book accompanies an exhibition of Nan Goldin’s photographs, drawn from the private collection of Gerry and David Pincus and jointly organized by the Palmer Museum of Art at The Pennsylvania State University and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Over the last thirty years, Goldin has attained international fame as a photographer who, building on the tradition of Robert Frank and Diane Arbus, has documented the lives of outsiders. But in Goldin’s case, the outsiders are her bohemian friends, whom she depicts with poignant and sometimes brutal honesty.

Jonathan Weinberg’s essay for this catalogue considers a number of Goldin’s now-classic photographs as well as her more recent, almost Baroque forays into landscape. In contrast to most earlier writers on Goldin’s work, who have emphasized its documentary character, Weinberg addresses the ways in which Goldin’s photographs might be said to constitute “fantastic tales.” Weinberg considers the narrative construction of Goldin’s work from a double perspective—personal as well as critical—that complicates even as it enriches his interpretations.

Jonathan Weinberg's many publications include Speaking for Vice (1993); Ambition and Love in Modern American Art (2001); and Male Desire: The Homoerotic in American Art (2005). He is co-editor of The Social and the Real, forthcoming from Penn State Press. His paintings are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other important collections.

Joyce Henri Robinson is Curator at the Palmer Museum of Art and Affiliate Associate Professor in the History of Art Department, The Pennsylvania State University. Her numerous publications include An Endless Panorama of Beauty (2003), also distributed by Penn State Press.

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