A legend, a teacher, a national icon and a man of integrity, David Goldblatt died peacefully at his home in Johannesburg, aged 87, in the early hours of Monday morning. ‘David Goldblatt’s death is a very sad day for us all at Goodman Gallery and indeed for South Africa,’ says Liza Essers of Goodman Gallery, the exhibition space that’s represented Goldblatt’s work for the latter part of his illustrious career. ‘David was a dear friend; 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.’
He was laid to rest at 12 noon on Tuesday at the Westpark Cemetery in Braamfontein, in the Jewish section. Goodman Gallery will continue to represent David’s legacy and estate and will do so with the honour, respect and responsibility that it deserves.
Goldblatt was born in 1930 in Randfontein, South Africa. At age 18, he 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.’ – David Goldblatt
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.