In Memoriam

David Goldblatt has died

Renowed photographer David Goldblatt has passed away at the age of 87.

Photograph by Mikhael Subotzky, January 2018

Photograph by Mikhael Subotzky, January 2018

David Goldblatt, who is one of South Africa’s most famous documentary photographers has died. The Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg confirmed that he passed away peacefully in the early hours of this morning at his home in Johannesburg.

Goldblatt was born in 1930 in Randfontein, South Africa. At age 18, Goldblatt began photographing the structures, people and landscapes of his home country. Over the next several decades, he would come to focus his camera on quiet, yet equally poignant features of the brutal apartheid regime.

During those years my prime concern was with values – what did we value in South Africa, how did we get to those values and how did we express those values,’ said Goldblatt, reflecting on where he chose to point his lens. ‘I was very interested in the events that were taking place in the country as a citizen but, as a photographer, I’m not particularly interested, and I wasn’t then, in photographing the moment that something happens. I’m interested in the conditions that give rise to events.

Over the course of his career, Goldblatt’s photographs were exhibited widely in newspapers and museums around the world. Earlier this year, the Pompidou Centre in Paris held the critically acclaimed retrospective, Goldblatt. In October, he will have another exhibition at the MCA Sydney. In 1989, Goldblatt founded the Market Photography Workshop in Johannesburg. A year earlier, he was the first South African to be given a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2001, a retrospective of his work, David Goldblatt Fifty-One Years began a tour of galleries and museums. He was one of the few South African artists to exhibit at Documenta 11 (2002) and Documenta 12 (2007) in Kassel, Germany. Goldblatt has held solo exhibitions at the Jewish Museum and the New Museum, both in New York. His work was included in the exhibition ILLUMInations at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, and has featured on shows at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Barbican Centre in London.

Goldblatt’s photographs are held in the collections of most major museums around the world, including among others the South African National Gallery; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Pompidou; Tate; Inhotim in Brazil; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the Getty Museum .

Goldblatt is the recipient of the 2006 Hasselblad award, the 2009 Henri Cartier-Bresson Award, the 2013 ICP Infinity Award and, in 2016, he was awarded the Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres by the Ministry of Culture of France.

Most recently an agreement with Yale was signed, transferring Goldblatt’s entire archive of negatives to the university. In addition, a digital archive of Goldblatt’s work will be created in South Africa and made available to the public for free through an initiative named the Photographic Legacy Project.

David Goldblatt’s death is a very sad day for us all at Goodman Gallery and indeed for South Africa. David was a dear friend and I will miss him very much. I am privileged to have known him and worked closely together for the past decade. In that time, David offered me his unwavering support, commitment and mentorship. David’s passing is a significant loss to South Africa and the global art world. A legend, a teacher, a national icon, and a man of absolute integrity has passed. Goodman Gallery will continue to represent David’s legacy and estate and will do so with the honour, respect and responsibility that this privilege deserves.’ Liza Essers, Goodman Gallery

Goldblatt will be laid to rest at 12 noon tomorrow at the Westpark Cemetery in Braamfontein, in the Jewish section. Following the funeral, prayers will be held at 5:15pm at the Goodman Gallery, 163 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg.



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