Jewish Achiever David on CNN this week

David Goldblatt, recipient of the 2013 Jewish Report Art, Sport, Science & Culture Award, will make a rare public appearance on CNN’s African Voices
by ANT KATZ | Nov 03, 2013


In accepting his award David Goldblatt said that if there was any merit in what he has done in his career, it is due to the unrelenting support of his wife Lilly.


The award was introduced by struggle stalwarts Jules and Selma Browde who have been married for 65 years


World-renowned SA Jewish photographer David Goldblatt will be featured on the CNN programme “African Voices” several times in the coming week – starting today. Goldblatt was the recipient of the 2013 Jewish Report Art, Sport, Science & Culture Award.

Born in Randfontein in 1930, David Goldblatt was the third son of Eli and Olga Goldblatt who had come to SA as children.

After matriculating he worked at his father’s clothing store in Randfontein while doing his B Comm at Wits and developing his interest in photography.

The CNN International show will be screened on the following days and times in South Africa: Sunday (3 Nov) 20h30; Monday 12h30 and 17h30; and Tuesday at 07h30.

For those wanting to watch but not able to make the time-slots, it can be recorded on your FVR or viewed on the CNN website from later this week.

Who is David Goldblatt?

When David’s father died in 1962, he sold the business and followed his dream of becoming a photographer. “Gradually I built up a professional practice, specialising in work outside the studio, photographing for magazines, corporations, advertising agencies and institutions. In my personal work I have, for the most part, photographed and published essays on various aspects of SA society.”

He says he regards himself “as an unlicensed, self-appointed observer and critic of SA society which I continue to explore with the camera.” Recognising the need for a facility to teach visual literacy and photographic skills particularly to people disadvantaged by apartheid, David founded the Market Photo Workshop in 1989 and continues to serve as a member of its Advisory Committee.

Despite having been so highly recognised both locally and internationally for his work, David says that he has “never sought to win awards, they don’t mean a great deal to me.” He says that recognition is “balm to the ego, but it doesn’t figure high in my constellation.”

However, on hearing that he was the recipient of the Jewish Achievers Award, says David, he found that “very pleasant. It is pleasing to be acknowledged in one’s own community,” he said. David also recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Centre for Photography in New York and he is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.

He acknowledges that “In my field I have been given major recognition for work I have done,” but, personally, he says “there are things I feel I could have done better, there is always room for improvement.”

He insists that he is “not trying to minimise what I have done,” but feels that within the context of South Africa, “as an observer and critic of this society, I believe I could have done better.”

Goldblatt says that he was exposed to anti-Semitism in his youth and growing up, but that this is not something he personally encounters now. But, he says, he realises that Jews - by virtue of our history - are required to be more observant of the nuances of anti-Semitism.

David lives in Joburg with his wife, Lily, has three children and two grandsons.

Jewish Achiever Award

9c-Goldblatt Jules and Selma Browde
PICTURED LEFT: David’s Jewish Report Jewish Achiever Award was introduced by past winners and well-known struggle stalwarts Jules and Selma Browde - who have been married for 65 years

David Goldblatt was the recipient of the 2013 Jewish Report Art, Sport, Science & Culture Award.

David is currently working on two projects. The one he has dubbed “Post-apartheid Public Art and Structures” which, he says represents expressions of our ethos. Now well into his eighties, Goldblatt says that while in the historical context “it might be a little too early,” for this project, “considering my age I might as well get on with it!”

The other project David has been working on for some time is photographing ex-offenders at the scene of their crimes. “Who are the people doing crime? How and why do they come to do it?” he asks. “I am curious to know, it is a conversation between me and myself,” which, he says, is something he does a lot of.

 “I choose not to meet them while they are prisoners, he says, but rather as “ordinary citizens when they are free or on parole. I meet and tell them that I am curious about their life and what they have done.”

He pays the ex-offenders for agreeing to collaborate and does a portrait at the scene of crime and records an interview. “I do this because I am curious. I have undertaken not to make money out of this work. After paying gallery commissions the balance of any sales is given to organisations dealing with the training and rehabilitation of offenders.”

David has now done 35 people in SA and some in the UK. He has exhibited some of the work but hasn’t published it yet. When does he plan to publish it? He says he will know when the time is right.

A selection of the Prizes and Awards David has been given:

  • Camera Austria Prize 1995
  • Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, University of Cape Town 2001
  • Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography 2006
  • Honorary Doctorate of Literature, University of the Witwatersrand 2008
  • Henri Cartier-Bresson Award 2009
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Arts and Culture Trust, 2009
  • Lucie Lifetime Achievement Award, 2010
  • Kraszna-Krausz Photography Book Award (with Ivan Vladislavic)  2011
  • Infinity Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Center for Photography, New York, 2013
  • Jewish Report Art, Sport, Science & Culture Award, 2013 

Works of David’s are housed in public collections such as:

9c-David Goldblatt Achievers
  • South African National Gallery, Cape Town
  • Johannesburg Art Gallery
  • University of the Witwatersrand
  • University of Cape Town
  • Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf
  • Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • Victoria and Albert Museum, London
  • The French National Art Collection
  • Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

PICTURED RIGHT: Despite all the awards he has won, David became emotional both when mentioning how important it was to be recognised by one’s own community, and when he thanked his wife, Lily, for her years of support


Selected publications of David Goldblatt include:

  • On The Mines with Nadine Gordimer, Struik, Cape Town, 1973
  • Some Afrikaners Photographed, Murray Crawford Johannesburg, 1975
  • In Boksburg, Gallery Press, Cape Town, 1982
  • The Transported of KwaNdebele with Brenda Goldblatt and Phillip van Niekerk, Aperture and Duke University, New York, 1989.
  • South Africa: the Structure of Things Then, Oxford University Press, Cape Town, and Monacelli Press, New York, 1998
  • Particulars, Goodman Gallery Editions, Johannesburg, 2003 [Awarded Arles Book Prize 2004]
  • Intersections Intersected, Museum Serralves, Porto, 2008
  • Kith, Kin and Khaya, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, 2010
  • TJ with Double Negative by Ivan Vladislavic, Contrasto, Rome, 2010
  • On The Mines, with Nadine Gordimer, new edition, Steidl, Göttingen, 2012

Some of David’s better-known solo exhibitions:

  • Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1998
  • Modern Art, Oxford, 2003
  • Johannesburg Art Gallery 2005
  • Arles Rencontres, 2006
  • Serralves Museum, Porto, Portugal 2008
  • New Museum, New York,  2009
  • Jewish Museum, New York, 2010
  • Jewish Museum, Cape Town, 2010
  • Amherst Art Museum, Massachusetts, 2010
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art 2012


  1. 2 joseph 06 Mar
    well done David
  2. 1 joseph 06 Mar


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