Celebrated photographer David Goldblatt dies, aged 87

Veteran photographer David Goldblatt died on Monday at the age of 87.

Robin Scher from the Goodman Gallery confirmed to News24 that Goldblatt passed away in the early hours of Monday morning.

In a statement, director of Goodman Gallery Liza Essers said: "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."

Goldblatt will be laid to rest on Tuesday at 12:00 at the Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg.  Essers said following the funeral, prayers will be held at the Goodman Gallery in Parkwood, Johannesburg at 17:15. 


Born in Randfontein, Goldblatt's decades-long career launched in 1948 and he became best known for documenting events unfolding in South Africa throughout apartheid, according to the Mail & Guardian.

The famed photographer was the recipient of many prestigious awards throughout his life, including the Hasselblad Award in 2006 and the Henri Cartier-Bresson Award in 2009, Netwerk24 reports.

The Henri Cartier-Bresson Award recognises an artist "whose work is influenced by the documentary approach" and is awarded every two years by an international jury.

He was also the recipient of the National Order of Ikhamanga.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his heartfelt condolences to Goldblatt's family.

“We have lost yet another of our own celebrated photographers, who through the lens built a reputation as one of the country’s leading documenter of the struggles of our people. He captured the social and moral value systems that portrayed South Africa during a period of apartheid system in order to influence its changing political landscape. Our country remains proud of his contribution to the portrayal of its life through the medium of photography and for leaving an indelible mark in our inclusive literary culture.  We wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to his family. May his soul rest in peace,” said Ramaphosa in a statement.

The Goodman Gallery houses and exhibits a great deal of his life’s work. It said recently an agreement with Yale was signed, transferring Goldblatt’s entire archive of negatives to the university. 

The Gallery also added that 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.

Goldblatt is survived by his wife Lily, three children and two grandchildren.

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