David Goldblatt’s legacy will continue to live on through his powerful black and white images made in South Africa, documenting the country’s tumultuous inner workings across racial and cultural boundaries.
Goldblatt’s career spanned an impressive 70 years, dedicated to telling the stories of South Africans through his lens. Today we mourn the loss of one of the countries greats, reported first by Mail & Guardian.
To a large extent, a documentary photographer’s life is moulded in the public domain, directed by social injustices, inspired to create awareness. This was the life of David Goldblatt, who began photographing in 1948, documenting a fractured and segregated Apartheid state.
David Goldblatt, moulded by circumstance
Born in Randfontein to parents who were Lithuanian refugees, it seems Goldblatt’s life was destined to revolve around ideas of belonging and the social constructs which marginalise communities. Through his keen eye for iconic and evocative images, his role became to inspect and dissect the social ills of South Africa, his images becoming evidence to the outside world of the oppressive Apartheid regime.
Goldblatt described himself as:
“A self-appointed observer and critic of the society into which I was born.”
His extensive body of work has been published by the Goodman Gallery for most of his career. His images were also exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1998. In 2001 retrospective of his life’s work entitled ‘David Goldblatt Fifty-One Years’ began a tour of galleries and museums.
It’s Goldblatt’s commitment to the ethics and art of documentary photography which make him one of the greats, especially within a South African context. His life of 88 years stands as a testament to the power of evocative story-telling and the eventual change that can occur once people are made aware of social injustices. Today, his images live on; to remind us of what once was, and what must never be again.