David Goldblatt’s iconic images capturing life under apartheid

Acclaimed South African photographer David Goldblatt passed away on Monday in Johannesburg aged 87.

Born in 1930 in Randfontein, Goldblatt began life in his country at the age of 18.

Over the next decades, he would document the harsh reality of South Africa, focusing “his camera on quiet, yet equally poignant features of the brutal … regime”, according to Goodman Gallery.

“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,” Goldblatt once said, reflecting on where he chose to point his lens, according to Goodman Gallery.

“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 award-winning work was exhibited widely in museums around the globe, as well as newspapers. His photographs are held in the collections of some of the world’s top museums.

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.

“We have lost yet another of our own celebrated photographers, who through the lens built a reputation as one of the country’s leading documenters of the struggles of our people,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement, after the news of Goldblatt’s death emerged.

“He captured the social and moral value systems that portrayed South Africa during a period of the apartheid system in order to influence its changing political landscape.”

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