Jim Goldberg (born 1953) is an American photographer and writer whose work reflects long-term, in-depth collaborations with neglected, ignored, or otherwise outside-the-mainstream populations.
Goldberg is best known for his photographic books, multi-media exhibits and video installations, among them: Rich and Poor (1985), Nursing Home, Raised by Wolves (1995), Hospice, and Open See (2009). Goldberg photographs sub-cultures, creating photo collages, and including text with his photographs, often written by his subjects.
Goldberg is part of the social aims movement in photography, using a straight-forward, cinéma vérité approach, based on a fundamentally narrative understanding of photography. Goldberg’s empathy and the uniqueness of the subjects emerge in his works, “forming a context within which the viewer may integrate the unthinkable into the concept of self. Thus diffused, this terrifying other is restored as a universal.” (Art Forum, Summer 1987)
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.”
In 1985 Goldberg’s book Rich and Poor was published. The book 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 1988 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 homeless children 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 Martin Parr and Gerry Badger in their bookThe Photobook: A History 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 U.S., 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 “The New Europeans,” 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.
Goldberg is a Professor of Photography and Fine Arts at the California College of the Arts and has been a full member of the Magnum Photos agency since 2006. He lives and works in San Francisco. His fashion, editorial and advertising work has appeared in numerous publications including W, Details, Flaunt, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Rebel, GQ, The New Yorker, and Dazed and Confused. He is represented by Pace/MacGill Gallery in New York, the Stephen Wirtz Gallery in San Francisco, and Magnum Photos.
Elevati a Lupi.