The Loss Of A South African Icon

Icon, legend and mentor to many, David Goldblatt, passed away peacefully in the early hours of June 25th, 2018 at his home in Johannesburg.

Born in 1930 in Randfontein, Goldblatt took an interest in photography at the age of 18 and began photographing the structures, people and landscapes of South Africa. As the years passed, he became renowned for his poignant features of the brutal apartheid regime.



‘David Goldblatt’s death is a very sad day for us all at Goodman Gallery and indeed for South Africa. David was a dear friend and I will miss him very much. 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.’

‘A legend, a teacher, a national icon, and a man of absolute integrity has passed. Goodman Gallery will continue to represent David’s legacy and estate and will do so with the honour, respect and responsibility that this privilege deserves,’ said Liza Essers, Goodman Gallery.



Over the course of his career, Goldblatt’s photographs were exhibited in newspapers and museums both locally and abroad. In 1989, Goldblatt founded the Market Photography Workshop in Johannesburg and in 1988 he became the first South African to be given a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

A recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres by the Ministry of Culture of France, Goldblatt’s collections can be found in most major museums around the world including the South African National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Pompidou.



Reflecting on where he chose to point his lens Goldblatt said, ‘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.’

‘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 will be laid to rest at 12 noon on June 26th, 2018 at the Westpark Cemetery in Braamfontein. Prayers will be held at 5:15 pm at the Goodman Gallery, 163 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg.

Plans for the future of his works include another Goldblatt exhibition at the MCA Sydney in October and a digital archive of his work will be created in South Africa and made available to the public for free through an initiative named the Photographic Legacy Project.




Featured Image: Mikhael Subotzky