Goldblatt: half a century in photos

18 August 2005

A retrospective of David Goldblatt’s works, spanning his 51 years in photography, opened this week at the Johannesburg Art Gallery.

The exhibition includes more than 250 photographs taken between 1948 to 2002 that document the changes South Africa has undergone.

Fifty One Years, the name of the exhibition, is a Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona production. It was originally curated by Corinne Diserens and Okwui Enwezor.

So far, it has been seen in galleries and museums in New York, Barcelona, Rotterdam, Lisbon, Oxford, Brussels and Munich.

Khwezi Gule, curator for contemporary collections at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, describes the exhibition as “a tribute to Goldblatt’s contribution to the world of photography, not only in South Africa but in the world.”

Miners going home: Mayfair railway station, Johannesburg, December 1952
Miners going home: Mayfair railway station, Johannesburg, December 1952

Born in Randfontein in 1930, Goldblatt became interested in photography while in high school. He wanted to become a magazine photographer after he matriculated, in 1948. However, after trying in vain to join the industry, he went to work in the family business selling men’s wear.

After his father died in 1962 he sold the family business and devoted his time to photography.

“My professional work has been almost entirely outside the studio and has involved a broad variety of assignments for magazines, corporations and institutions in South Africa and overseas,” Goldblatt wrote in a piece for the Goodman Gallery website.

Source: City of Johannesburg