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In memoriam: David Goldblatt (1930–2018)

We at Art21 were saddened to hear the news this morning about the passing of the great photographer and artist, David Goldblatt.

Over the past year, we had the privilege of filming with the artist for the upcoming ninth season of the Art in the Twenty-First Century television series. He graciously welcomed us into his process as we followed his travels in and around Johannesburg, sharing with us the stories and motivations behind nearly six decades of work. With an honest and joyous spirit, he revealed photographs from his personal archive and took us to the neighborhoods that have been captured by his lens.

After each day of filming, members of our Johannesburg-based crew pored over his many catalogues, seeing their country’s history captured in critical yet sensitive pictures. Always humble and fiercely independent, David would refuse any flattery from them or offers of assistance with his heavy camera bags. Throughout each of our filming sessions, the artist displayed an overwhelming devotion to his practice and tremendous passion for his home country of South Africa.

We join the artist’s family and friends—as well as the generations of artists that have been touched by his work, teachings, and mentorship—in honoring his legacy.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been bored with photography. I’ve sometimes become extremely frustrated. But it’s a life-absorbing process. It absorbs me fully.”
—David Goldblatt