Jim Goldberg (born 1953) is an American artist and photographer, whose work reflects long-term, in-depth collaborations with neglected, ignored, or otherwise outside-the-mainstream populations. Among the many awards Goldberg has received are three National Endowment of the Arts Fellowships in Photography, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Henri Cartier-Bresson Award, and the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. His works have been exhibited, published, and collected internationally. Goldberg is Professor Emeritus at the California College of the Arts
, and has been a member of the Magnum Photos
agency since 2002. He currently lives and works in the greater Bay Area.
Goldberg is best known for his photography books, multi-media exhibitions, and video installations, among them: Rich and Poor
(1985), Nursing Home, Raised by Wolves
(1995), Hospice, and Open See
(2009). His work often examines the lives of neglected, ignored, or otherwise outside-the-mainstream populations through long-term, in depth collaborations that investigate the nature of American myths about class, power, and happiness.
Goldberg is part of an experimental documentary movement in photography, using a straightforward, cinéma vérité approach, based on a fundamentally narrative understanding of photography. The individuality of the subjects emerges in his works, "forming a context within which the viewer may integrate the unthinkable into the concept of self. Thus portrayed, this terrifying other is restored as a universal."
Goldberg's work was featured with that of Robert Adams
and Joel Sternfeld in a 1984 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art
entitled "Three Americans"
; the exhibition was described as "a show of politically charged and socially conscious images."
His 1985 book Rich and Poor
, re-released by Steidl in an expanded edition in 2014, includes photographs of people in their homes along with handwritten comments by them about their lives. For example, the handwriting under the photograph reproduced on the front cover reads "I keep thinking where we went wrong. We have no one to talk to now, however, I will not allow this loneliness to destroy me,— I STILL HAVE MY DREAMS. I would like an elegant home, a loving husband and the wealth I am used to. Countess Vivianna de Bronville."
Although the book received one mixed review shortly after publication, other reviews were positive, and it was later selected as one of the greatest photobooks of the 20th century.
The photographs in a 1986 exhibition of Goldberg's The Nursing Home
Series were accompanied by handwritten text by the nursing home residents who were the subjects of the photographs. A review of a 1990 exhibition Shooting Back: Photography by and About the Homeless
at the Washington Project for the Arts characterized the exhibition as "Issue Art"
and characterized Goldberg as "a superior Issue Artist because he's a superior artist."
A major mixed-media exhibition by Goldberg concerning at risk and homeless youth in California entitled Raised by Wolves
began traveling in 1995 and was accompanied by a book of the same title. A review of the exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art
noted that Goldberg made reference to other artists and photographers; used photographs, videos, objects, and texts to convey meaning; and "let his viewers feel, in some corner of their psyches, the lure of abject lowliness, the siren call of pain."
Although the accompanying book received one mixed review shortly after publication, it was described as "a heartbreaking novel with pictures"
, and in The Photobook: A History, Martin Parr and Gerry Badger
praised it as "complex and thoughtful."
A 1999 mixed media installation at the San Francisco Arts Commission gallery entitled "57/78/97"
explored race relations in the United States, including the Little Rock Crisis of 1957, the 1978 Regents of the University of California v. Bakke decision, and the year following the passage of California Proposition 209 (1996) concerning affirmative action.
Selected photographs from a series by Goldberg called "Open See,"
concerning refugees, immigrants, and trafficked people, were first exhibited in San Francisco in 2007. One review stated that the photographs may leave the viewer "paralyzed by uncertainty about what might alleviate the injustices"
depicted. Part of the series came to be known as "Open See"
, and Goldberg's book of that title was published in 2009 by Steidl.
In 2013 Goldberg was an artist in residence at Yale University Art Gallery
with Donovan Wylie. They each created a body of work based in New Haven. In Candy, Jim Goldberg, a New Haven native, creates a multilayered photo-novel of aspiration and disillusionment, interspersing Super 8 film stills, images of New Haven’s urban landscape, annotated Polaroid portraits, and collaged archival materials to explicate the rise and fall of American cities in the 20th century. Goldberg considers New Haven’s quest to become a “model city”
of America, contrasting its civic aspirations with its citizens’ lived realities.
Jim Goldberg’s innovative use of image and text make him a landmark photographer of our times. He has been working with experimental storytelling for over forty years, and his major projects and books include Rich and Poor
(1977-85), Raised by Wolves
(1985-95), Nursing Home
(1986), Coming and Going
(1996-present), Open See
(2003-2009), The Last Son
(2016), Ruby Every Fall
(2013-2017), Darrell & Patricia
(2018), and Gene
(2018). His work is in numerous private and public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
, the Whitney Museum of American Art
, the Getty
, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
. He is the recipient of numerous awards including three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship (1985), the Henri Cartier-Bresson Award (2007), and the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize (2011). Goldberg is Professor Emeritus at the California College of the Arts and is a member of Magnum Photos.
Source: Magnum Photos
An heir to such social documentarians as Walker Evans
and Robert Frank
, Goldberg is inspired and informed by his ongoing interest in people and their positions in society as a function of broader cultural policies and practices. His work is the aesthetic embodiment of Frank’s opinion that “the truth is somewhere between the documentary and the fictional.”
Source: Pace/MacGill Gallery