David Goldblatt

01.02.2003 — 30.03.2003

Modern Art Oxford

Fifty-One Years will show over 200 photographs dating from 1948 to the present. For Goldblatt, photography is a tool that can be used to analyse social and cultural structures. His photographs explore both the implicit and explicit tensions underpinning life in both urban and rural South Africa. They are remarkable first-hand records of an important place and time.  Modern Art Oxford is the only UK venue.

Goldblatt belongs to the great tradition of 20th century documentary photographers, whose primary objective was to portray the often grim conditions in which ordinary people lived and worked, manifesting an explicitly critical social consciousness and calling for reform.  On the one hand he bears witness to the steady deterioration of the urban landscapes and the irresistible advance of the processes of change and of modernisation, while on the other he reflects the solidarity and the spirit of unity achieved by communities in their most adverse moments. 

This exhibition is drawn from a series of photographic essays taken in different communities produced over a period of several decades. It traces Goldblatt's major themes, among them his work on the gold mines among which he grew up, the portrayal of Afrikaner people, the homeland transport of segregated people, life in a small-town white community, architecture as an expression of values, aspects of Johannesburg, the city in which he lives.

His most recent works - previously commissioned for Documenta 11 - are in colour and will be included in the exhibition at Modern Art Oxford.  They reflect both the inner city degeneration and the wealth of the suburbs in post-apartheid Johannesburg.

The exhibition and international tour is organised by the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona. 

David Goldblatt, Fifty-One Years

David Goldblatt, Fifty-One Years

Event Dates

  • Exhibition 01.02.2003 — 30.03.2003

    South Africa's most significant and influential photographer