David Goldblatt
Photo: Lily Goldblatt
Photo: Lily Goldblatt

b. 1930, Randfontein, South Africa

David Goldblatt taught himself the fundamentals of photography while working toward a degree in commerce at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and helping with his father’s menswear store. After his father’s death in 1962, he sold the business and turned to photography full-time.

Goldblatt is one of the most recognized figures of apartheid-era photography, having documented South Africa’s cultural and political development since the early 1960s. He shot primarily in black-and-white until the late 1990s, when he began to explore color in greater depth. His current work focuses on post-apartheid South African society and the country’s struggle to heal from decades of segregation and prejudice.

Goldblatt was the first South African to have a one-person exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1998). Other significant solo exhibitions include South African Photographs: David Goldblatt, The Jewish Museum, New York (2010); Intersections Intersected: The Photography of David Goldblatt, Fundação de Serralves, Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto, Portugal (2008); and David Goldblatt, South African National Gallery, Cape Town (1999). In addition to numerous group exhibitions, among them In/Sight: African Photographers, 1940 to the Present, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1996); and The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945–1994, Museum Villa Stuck, Munich (2001, traveled), Goldblatt participated in the 54th Venice Biennale (2011); Documenta 11 and 12, Kassel, Germany (2002, 2007); and the 1st Johannesburg Biennale (1995). He has also received France’s Henri Cartier-Bresson International Award (2009) and honorary doctorates in literature, from the University of the Witwatersrand (2008), and fine arts, from the University of Cape Town (2001). Goldblatt lives and works in Johannesburg.