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through his lens: a photomontage in memory of David Goldblatt

David Goldblatt
Photograph: Mikhael Subotzky, taken January 2018

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.

David Goldblatt
Seated in Martjie Marais's kitchen: her husband's brother, Johannes, and
her nephew Derick. Gamkaskloof, Cape Province (Western Cape), 1967
(2_3325)
1967
Silver gelatin photograph on fibre-based paper
P:50 x 49.5cm
Edition of 10

David Goldblatt
Saturday afternoon in Sunward Park, Boksburg (2_27761_63)
April 1979
Silver gelatin photograph on fibre-based paper
approx. 30 x 40cm
Edition of 8

David Goldblatt
Spec housing and children on the veld at Parkrand (2_28045)
1979
Silver gelatin photograph on fibre-based paper
approx. 30 x 40cm
Edition of 10

David Goldblatt
A farmer's son with his nursemaid, Heimweeberg, Nietverdiend, Western
Transvaal (3_A9941)
1964
Silver gelatin photograph on fibre-based paper
approx. 30 x 40cm
Edition of 10

David Goldblatt
Ella, daughter of Freek and Martjie Marais, in the children's bedroom.
Gamkaskloof, Cape Province (Western Cape), December 1967
(3_D9436)
1967
Silver gelatin photograph on fibre-based paper
Image: 17.7 x 11.8 in.
Edition of 10

David Goldblatt
An elder of the Dutch Reformed Church walking home with his family after
the Sunday service, Carnavon, Cape Province (Northern Cape), January
1968 (3_D9810)
1968
Silver gelatin photograph on fibre-based paper
30 x 45cm
Edition of 10

David Goldblatt
An elder of the Dutch Reformed Church walking home with his family after
the Sunday service, George, Cape Province (Western Cape), 1968
(3_D9881)
1968
Silver gelatin photograph on fibre-based paper
approx. 30 x 40cm
Edition of 10

David Goldblatt
Dancing-master Ted van Rensburg watches two of his ballroom pupils,
swinging to a record of Victor Sylvester and his Orchestra, in the MOTHS'
Hall at the old Court House, Boksburg. 1980 (3_G3867)
1980
Silver gelatin photograph on fibre-based paper
approx. 30 x 40cm
Edition of 10

David Goldblatt
Miners' bunks in the abandoned Chinese compound, so called because it
probably housed indentured Chinese labourers between 1904 and 1910,
after which it accommodated black miners. Simmer & Jack Gold Mine,
Germiston, July 1965 (4_0129/4_129)
1965
Silver gelatin photograph on fibre-based paper
approx. 30 x 40cm
Edition of 10

David Goldblatt
The Apostolic Multiracial Church in Zion of SA. Crossroads, Cape Town
(4_3603)
1984
Silver Gelatin Vintage Print

David Goldblatt
With half of his building destroyed under the Apartheid regulation that had
declared this suburb “White”, Hassimia Sahib, butcher, continued trading
and refused to move until given the site he had selected in the declared
“Asiatic” suburb to which he was to be consigned. Housing for Whites
already occupied. Pageview, Johannesburg. 8 March 1986 (4_4051)
1986
Silver gelatin photograph on fibre-based paper
approx. 30 x 40cm
Edition of 10

David Goldblatt
Flushing Meadows and lightning masts, Site B, Khayelitsha, Cape Town,
11 October 1987 (4_5131)
1987
Silver gelatin photograph on fibre-based paper
Image: 11.8 x 14.8 in.
Edition of 10

David Goldblatt
Kite flying near Phuthaditjhaba, Qwa Qwa. 1 May 1989 (4_5951)
1989
Silver gelatin photograph on fibre-based paper
P:48 x 59.5m
Edition of 10

David Goldblatt
The Voortrekker Monument and a Sunday service of the ultraconservative
Afrikaanse Protestantse Kerk (Afrikaans Protestant Church)
after a rally of right-wing Afrikaners who threatened war if South Africa
became a non-racial democracy, Pretoria, Transvaal, 27 May 1990
(4_6364)
1990
Silver gelatin photograph on fibre-based paper
approx. 30 x 40cm
Edition of 10

David Goldblatt
Freedom Square: here, in the time of apartheid, on 26 June 1955, under
harassment by the police, some 3000 people of all races, from all over
South Africa, gathered in a Congress of the People and adopted the
Freedom Charter, a template for the governance of a non-racial,
democratic South Africa. The Charter became the basis of South Africa’s
democratic constitution. Kliptown, Soweto, Johannesburg. 10 December
2003 (4_9056)
2003
Digital Prints on 100% cotton rag paper
Edition of 10

David Goldblatt
Johnny Basson, goatherd, Rooipad se Vlak, Pella, Northern Cape.
(4_9249)
2004
Digital Prints on 100% cotton rag paper
A0 or A0+
Edition of 10

David Goldblatt
Uitkyk, Bushmanland. 27 June 2004 (4_9327)
2004
Digital Prints on 100% cotton rag paper
A0 or A0+
Edition of 10

David Goldblatt
Miriam Mazibuko waters the garden of her RDP house for which she
waited eight years. It consists of one room. Her four children live with her
in-laws. Extension 8, Far East Alexandra Township, 12 September 2006
(4_9958)
2006
Digital Prints on 100% cotton rag paper
Approx (A0) 86 x 110cm
Edition of 10

David Goldblatt
On August 16 2012 South African Police shot striking mineworkers of the
Lonro platinum mines, killing 34 and wounding 78 in seemingly wild
shooting without good cause. The men were shot, some with their hands
up in surrender, within a radius of about 300 metres of this koppie on
which they met. Beyond is the Lonro smelter, which stood idle during the
strike. Marikana, North-West Province. 11 May 2014 (4_A1201)
2014
Silver gelatin on fibre based paper
Edition of 10

David Goldblatt
The dethroning of Cecil John Rhodes, after the throwing of human faeces
on the statue and the agreement of the University to the demands of
students for its removal. The University of Cape Town, 9 April 2015
(NK3_1715-2)
2015
Silver gelatin on fibre based paper
A0
Edition of 10