New York

David Goldblatt, The farmer’s son with his nursemaid, on the farm in Heimweeberg, near Nietverdiend in the Marico Bushveld.  Transvaal (North-West Province), 1964, black-and-white photograph, 9 x 13".

David Goldblatt, The farmer’s son with his nursemaid, on the farm in Heimweeberg, near Nietverdiend in the Marico Bushveld. Transvaal (North-West Province), 1964, black-and-white photograph, 9 x 13".

New York

South African Photographs: David Goldblatt

The Jewish Museum
1109 Fifth Avenue
May 2–September 19, 2010

Curated by Susan Tumarkin Goodman

Whether documenting workers blasting a shaft in a gold mine, the grueling commute from a Bantustan, or everyday life in a middle-class Afrikaans town, South African photographer David Goldblatt’s images are beguilingly straightforward. His preference for “talking” over “shouting” led to accusations during the 1980s that he was insufficiently “activist,” but therein, paradoxically, lies the power of his work, whose austerity is repeatedly jostled by meticulously calibrated measures of compassion and dismay. On the heels of his (smaller) New Museum exhibition in New York last fall, this retrospective features 150 black-and-white photographs made over the past sixty-two years. A “context room” with a time line linking South Africa’s history with Goldblatt’s biography will complement the texts that accompany each image, which likewise convey a sense of individual lives enmeshed in historical circumstance.