Important South African Art, Furniture, Silver and Ceramics

Live Auction, 26 September 2011

Important South African Art Evening Sale

Sold for

ZAR 38 990
Lot 386
  • David Goldblatt; Fifteen year old youth after release from detention, 1985

Lot Estimate
ZAR 35 000 - 50 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 38 990

About this Item

South African 1930-2018
Fifteen year old youth after release from detention, 1985

signed and dated 25/10/85 in pencil on the reverse

silver gelatine print on fibre paper
18,5 by 18cm excluding frame


Nadine Gordimer and David Goldblatt collaborated on his first book published in 1973 and entitled On the Mines. In the late seventies and eighties his vision underwent considerable change. As pointed out by Amy Halliday in her biography of the photographer:
Over time ... he developed a more ‘contemplative’ approach. It is this characteristic restraint – which nonetheless speaks volumes – for which he is most well known, particularly in his projects rooted in high apartheid, such as In Boksburg (1982) and Lifetimes: Under Apartheid (1986). 1

The photographer and author were re-united in an anthological collaboration of photography and writing in Lifetimes: Under Apartheid. Author, art historian and curator Rory Bester describes the photographs in this volume:
They are iconic photographs of anti-apartheid struggle, so familiar in collected volumes such as South Africa: The Cordoned Heart (1986) and Beyond the Barricades: Popular Resistance in South Africa (1989). ‘Fifteen year old youth after release from detention. 1985’ ends the short sequence. It is also the image on the dust cover, clearly locating the book’s photographic context and words within a time of political ferment. 2

The importance of this particular photograph may be gauged from the fact that Goldblatt singled it out when recently interviewed by Jo Ractliffe:
There are two pictures of the young man who had been beaten up by the security police. He didn’t want to give me his name because, at that time, they were in great fear of the police. ... And the young man with the plaster on his arms was a much more dramatic and immediately accessible photograph.
... the Detainees Parents Support Committee would phone me occasionally and say there were some people who I might talk to and I would go down to Khotso House ... 3

2. Rory Bester, ‘David Goldblatt, One Book at a Time’ in David Goldblatt: Photographs, Contrasto, Rome, 2006, page 17.
2. 'Reflections in a rearview mirror', Mail and Guardian, Friday, June 24 to 30 2011, page 9.


David Goldblatt, Photographs, Contrasto, Roma, 2006, page 16, illustrated

Nadine Gordimer and David Goldblatt, Lifetimes: Under Apartheid, 1986, Knopf, New York, illustrated on dust cover

View all David Goldblatt lots for sale in this auction

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