OBITUARY: David Goldblatt
A great loss to the South African art world
Famous South African photographer David Goldblatt died yesterday, aged 87, at his home in Johannesburg.
“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,” said Liza Essers, owner of the Goodman Gallery which represented him.Goldblatt was born in 1930 in Randfontein. At 18, he began photographing the structures, people and landscapes of his home country. Over the 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.”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 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 .He 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.Goldblatt will be laid to rest at noon tomorrow at the West Park Cemetery in Montgomery Park in the Jewish section. Following the funeral, prayers will be held at 5.15pm at the Goodman Gallery, 163 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg.