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Christmas came early for fans of contemporary photography: earlier this month, Nan Goldin joined Instagram. Though her account, @nangoldinstudio, got off to a slow start on December 13, when she posted a photo from 1992 (maybe she forget to tag it #WBW), it has since picked up steam, with cleverly cropped details of European paintings and newer images in her signature, candid style, from a pastoral scene of a couple embracing to a photo of the back of her own head.

“I’ve been called narcissistic, self-centered, and voyeuristic, but there are a lot of things in between, like compassion and love,” Goldin said in a 2009 interview with the Telegraph. Thus far, her Instagram feed seems to be erring on the side of love and compassion rather than narcissism or the kind of emotionally charged and painful imagery that made her famous slideshow, “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency,” so powerful.

Nevertheless, Goldin’s feed is a far cry from the social media work of another canonical figure in photography who recently made an Instagram splash. In August, Cindy Sherman made her formerly private account public, and began posting selfies in which she has tweaked her appearance using a set of in-phone apps. The results, unsurprisingly, are decidedly more playful than Goldin’s posts, which straddle the boundary between fashion photography and her classically unembellished aesthetic.

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Benjamin Sutton

Benjamin Sutton is an art critic, journalist, and curator who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. His articles on public art, artist documentaries, the tedium of art fairs, James Franco's obsession with Cindy...