Jim Goldberg

United States 1953



Jim Goldberg
Jim Goldberg
United States
March 14, 2016
Ok, I know it's so damn corny to quote somebody just to describe yourself, let alone Confucius, but this quote says all about my relationship with Widewalls, so forgive me for doing this: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Am I forgiven?

Imagine if every person would use his/hers job to make this world, if not a better, than at least a bit more honest place to live in. The American photographer Jim Goldberg could have chosen to shoot only beautiful landscapes, beautiful women and beautiful homes. Instead, he chose to collect all the flaws of how today’s society functions and to throw it in our face, whether we can handle to see the victims of this system or not. He doesn’t seem to care about that, what he cares for is that teenage girl living in the street, or that African American student who was denied an access to the education…

One of many Goldberg’s socialy engaged projects: Access to Life

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Jim Goldberg – Access to Life Project – Kassi KEITA, MALI 2008 Image copyrights © Magnum Photos

Following the path of W. Eugene Smith

Jim Goldberg was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1953. He earned a BA in photography and education from the Western Washington University, one of the only six public universities in the Washington state. Later on, Jim continued his study of the photography at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Right from the beginning of his career, he was following the path of great W. Eugene Smith, an American photojournalist, notorious for his unwavering devotion to projects and his absolute and uncompromising ethical standards and professionalism. However, by the time he entered the world of 20th-century social documentary photojournalism, its potential to effect any social change was already being questioned. This artist bonded with a social aims movement in photography, tailing cinéma vérité approach, where this artist could easily emerge himself into the world of a subject, employing his empathy.

Three Americans: Goldberg, Sternfeld and Adams

Goldberg’s type of work crystallized pretty soon, so he started few of his many long-term projects related to a tight collaboration with some of the neglected and ignored social groups. An artist who claimed that he honestly feels that intimacy and trust are the guides to his work, created numerous photographic books, multi-media exhibits, and video installations.

In 1984, Jim Goldberg participated in the exhibition titled Three Americans at the Museum of Modern Art. Our artist was one American and the other two were Joel Sternfeld, a fine-art color photographer known for his documentary pictures of the US and Robert Adams, an artist focused on changing the landscape of the American West. The exhibition attracted a lot of attention at the time and was described as the show of politically charged and socially conscious images. Around this time, Jim’s passion for witnessing and storytelling just heated up, relying on the fundamentally narrative understanding of photography.

American dream turned up to be the American myth

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Jim Goldberg – Rich and Poor Project, California. 1979, Image copyrights © Magnum Photos

Two Side of the American Coin: Rich and Poor project

In the year of 1985, he finished his Rich and Poor project, started in 1977. During the process he simply felt that an image isn’t really worth a thousand words, so he thought he might try mixing images with texts – thus creating a photo collage, including handwritten text on the photographs, often written by the subjects themselves.

Depicting two different Americas: one that is forgotten in many rundown hotels throughout the entire state, and its antipode, the upper-class, living in its fancy houses. Exploring the American dream that turned up to be the American myth, Goldberg invited into the world where the search for happiness is equally hard for both groups, for those that have nothing and for those that seem to have everything.

The book titled Rich and Poor was published in 1985, and in 2014 was re-released in an expanded edition by Steidl, a printing company and an international publisher of photo books based in Göttingen, Germany. The very same method of combining images and text, Goldberg used for his next project titled The Nursing Home Series, represented at the namesake exhibition in 1988. Each of the photos held a text, handwritten by the nursing home residents depicted on the image.

Raised by Wolves: Heartbreaking novel with pictures

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Jim Goldberg – Echo´s Map from Raised by Wolves Project, 1989 Image copyrights © Magnum Photos

Born as Proud Americans, Raised by Wolves

However, one of Goldberg’s most important works is definitely a series named Raised by Wolves, created between 1985 and 1995. This project has been derived from Jim’s documenting the life of homeless children in Los Angeles and San Francisco. By combining materials like photographs, texts, interviews, notebooks, snapshots, found objects and even sculptures – Goldberg created a rich and substantially mixed media exhibition that started its journey around America in 1995 and was also accompanied by the book with the same title, later described as a heartbreaking novel with pictures. The most frightening aspect of this project was the fact that the creator of it was reality itself. Goldberg is just a bare witness of what is going on in the streets. He just couldn’t stand still and do nothing about it – so he began documenting his experiences and those of the children. Raised by Wolves is his first project where he deliberately incorporated every possible approach and media: from text, video, audio, found object and ephemera – he used everything in order to extend the experience of the project to the viewers. Jim spent a decade on the streets, creating this voyage through photojournalism, novel, movie, photograph, and sound of street kid’s life.

The New Europeans. In the Open Sea. No help on the horizon.

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Jim Goldberg – At the Open Sea project, UKRAINE. 2006-2008. Grid of images of the victims of human trafficking in Ukraine Image copyrights © Magnum Photos

57/78/97 – Race Relations in America

During the last year of the 20th-century, Goldberg emerged himself into the project about race relations in America. He was inspired by three events: Little Rock Crisis of 1957 (when group of nine African American students was prevented from entering the racially segregated school), the 1978 Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, allowing race to be one of the several factors in college admission policy) and the California Proposition 209 concerning affirmative action when state strictly prohibited governmental institutions from considering race, sex, or ethnicity, in the areas of public employment, public contracting, and public education. Following the trail of this side of American society, Goldberg held the exhibition titled 57/78/97 at the San Francisco Arts Commission gallery.

This socially engaged artist did not lose his edge during the time. In 2007, Goldberg’s The New Europeans project lit up some more light on the effort to illuminate the horrible and inhuman phenomena of the influx of refugees, immigrants, and a profitable business of trafficked people to which he dedicated a part of the project named In the Open Sea. The New Europeans book was published by Steidl, in 2007.

Goldberg´s commercial work

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Jim Goldberg – Tearsheet, Vogue, Men International n° 10, Image copyrights © Magnum Photos

Tutoring Future Witnesses

Today, this philanthropic artist who took the weight of pointing out many social injustices, teaches Photography and Fine Arts at the California College of the Arts, where he tutors the future photographers and witnesses of the cruel reality that the most important thing in this career is learning to respect the importance of process.
He is a member of the Magnum Photos agency since 2006, and beside his socially engaged work, he participates in various fashion, editorial and advertising photography projects, collaborating with Times Magazine, Esquire, Rebel, GQ, The New Yorker and Dazed and Confused.

Jim Goldberg is a proud owner of several awards, like Guggenheim Fellowship and the Hasselblad Award.

This artist is represented by Stephen Bulger Gallery.

Jim Goldberg lives and works in San Francisco.

Artworks images copyright © Magnum Photos.
Profile image copyright © Christopher Capozziello for The New York Times.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2015Imaging Eden: Photographers Discover the EvergladesOrganized by the Norton Museum of ArtGroup
2015Open SeaMagnum PhotosSolo
2014Invisible MigrationsAlice Austen House, Staten Island, NYGroup
2011PARCOPordenone Arte Contemporanea, Pordenone, ItalySolo
2011Face of Our TimeThe San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CASolo
2011Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2011C/O Berlin,Berlin, GermanyGroup
2011Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2011the Photographers’Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
2010Open SeeFoam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam,The NetherlandsSolo
2010Rich & PoorForum fur Fotografie, Cologne, GermanySolo
2010Open SeeThe Photographers’ Gallery, London, EnglandSolo
2010Never just lookingForum fur Fotografie, Cologne, GermanyGroup
2010The City Stripped BareMagnum Print Room, London, EnglandGroup
2010EcotoneCNA Centre National de l'Audiovisuel, Dudelange,LuxembourgGroup
2009Rich and PoorMagnum Gallery, Paris, FranceSolo
2009Rencontres d'Arles 2009Rencontres Internationales dela Photographie, Arles, FranceGroup
2009Access to Life, MAGNUMThe Stenersen Museum, Oslo, NorwayGroup
2009MAGNUM CONTEMPORARY, FUTURE ICONSAtlas Gallery,London, EnglandGroup
2008Magnum Photos 60 yearsStedelijk Museum Post CS,Amsterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
2007The New EuropeansStephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2007Rich and Poor and Raised by WolvesAtlas Gallery, LondonSolo
2007Stripped Bare, Der Entblößte KörperC/O Berlin, Berlin,GermanyGroup
2007Turkey by MagnumIstanbul Modern, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2006New PicturesStephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2005Jim GoldbergGaleria Antonio de Barnola, Barcelona, SpainSolo
2005In the Open SeeStephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto, CanadaSolo
2004Two StoriesPace/MacGill Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2004Global PrioritySan Francisco Arts Commission Gallery,San Francisco, CAGroup
2004What’s Doin’Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2004DoPace/MacGill Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2004Exhibiting Signs of AgeColby College Museum of Art,Waterville, MEGroup
2004Common Ground: Discovering Community in 150 Years of Art,Selections from the Collection of Julia J. NorrellCorcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.Group
2004Periplus12 Magnum Photographers in Contemporary Greece,Benaki Museum, Athens, GreeceGroup
2003Both Sides of the Street: Celebrating the Corcoran’s Photography CollectionCorcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.Group
2003The Grey AreaWattis Institute for Contemporary Arts,San Francisco, CAGroup
2003Magnum: Celebrating 5 DecadesSteven Bulger Gallery,Toronto, CanadaGroup
2003Commission 03San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery,San Francisco, CAGroup
2002Add Drop AddOliver Art Center, Oakland, CAGroup
2002PhotographyWirtz Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2002What’s New: Recent Acquisitions in PhotographySondra Gilman Gallery, Whitney Museum of Art, New York, NYGroup
2002Whitney Summer 2002Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NYGroup
2001No Big PicturesPace/MacGill Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2001In from the EdgeOrmeau Baths Gallery, Belfast, IrelandGroup
2001Beyond BoundariesAnsel Adams Center for Photography,San Francisco, CAGroup
2001Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth CenturyRoth Horowitz, New York, NYGroup
2000American Perspectives: Photographs from the Polaroid CollectionTokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2000American Treasures of the Corcoran Gallery of ArtCorcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.Group
2000California InvitationalFriends of Photography,San Francisco, CAGroup
199957/78/97San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery,San Francisco, CASolo
1999Nooderlicht PhotoFestivalGroningen, HollandGroup
1999World Studio Foundation: Help Kids CreateNathan Cummings Foundation, New York, NYGroup
1999Hospice: A Photographic InquirySalt Lake Art Center, Salt Lake City, UT; traveled to The Light Factory,Group
1998MATRIX/Berkeley: 20 YearsUC Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, CAGroup
1998Years Ending in NineThe Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TXGroup
1998Opening the Shutter: 150 Years of PhotographyKresge Art Museum, East Lansing, MIGroup
1997Little BoxesCambridge Darkroom Gallery, Cambridge, EnglandGroup
1997The Eureka Fellowship Awards: 1996 to 1998San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CAGroup
1997The ClassZürich Museum of Design, Zürich, SwitzerlandGroup
1997Illustrious History, 1871 to presentThe Salander O’Reilly Galleries, New York, NYGroup
1997Collection in Context: Selected contemporary photographs of hands from the collection of Henry M. BuhlThread Waxing Space, New York, NYGroup
1996Raised by WolvesThe San Francisco Museum of Modern Art,San FranciscoSolo
1996Raised by WolvesLos Angeles County Museum of Art,Los Angeles, CASolo
1996Jim Goldberg: Raised by WolvesPace/Wildenstein/MacGill,Los Angeles, CASolo
1996Jim Goldberg: Raised by WolvesParco Gallery, Tokyo, JapanSolo
1996Jim Goldberg: Raised by WolvesPace/Wildenstein/MacGill,New York, NYSolo
1995Raised by WolvesCorcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.Solo
1994Who's Looking at the Family?Barbican Art Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
1994IV Fotobienal 90Vigo, SpainGroup
1990Art at the AnchorageCreative Time, New York, NYSolo
1989Capp Street ProjectSan Francisco, CASolo
1989Jim GoldbergUniversity of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, TXSolo
1989Rethinking American MythsLaurence Miller Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1988Jim GoldbergWashington Project for the Arts, Washington, D.C.Solo
1988Jim GoldbergMuseum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CASolo
1988Recent AcquisitionsNational Museum of American Art, The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.Group
1988The Instant Likeness: Polaroid PortraitsNational Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.Group
1988Taking PicturesCalifornia Museum of Art, Santa Rosa, CAGroup
1988The Other Side of the DreamPhillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NHGroup
1988PortraitsPurdue University, West Lafayette, INGroup
1988Mixed Signals: Photographs with TextNorthlight Gallery,Group
1988Twenty TwoHoward Yerzerski Gallery, Boston, MAGroup
1987Jim GoldbergAkron Art Museum, Akron, OHSolo
1987Jim GoldbergWestern Washington University, Bellingham, WASolo
1987Jim GoldbergClarence Kennedy Gallery, Cambridge, MASolo
1987Jim GoldbergUniversity Art Museum, Berkeley, CASolo
1987Mothers and DaughtersBurden Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1987Un Si Grand AgePalais de Tokyo, Paris, FranceGroup
1986Jim GoldbergThe Tartt Gallery, Washington, D.C.Solo
1986Selection 3Polaroid Gallery, Photokina 86, Cologne, GermanyGroup
1985Jim GoldbergNorthlight Gallery, Tempe, AZSolo
1985Jim GoldbergIthaca College, Ithaca, NYSolo
1985Jim GoldbergG. H. Dalsheimer Gallery, Baltimore, MDSolo
1985Lightwork: Photography in the 70s and 80sEverson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NYGroup
1985Extending the Perimeters of 20th Century PhotographyThe San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CAGroup
1984Jim GoldbergHouston Center for Photography, Houston, TXSolo
1984Jim GoldbergIndiana University, Bloomington, INSolo
1984Jim GoldbergFriends of Photography Gallery, Carmel, CASolo
1984Jim GoldbergLightsong Gallery, Tucson, AZSolo
1984Three Americans (Robert Adams, Joel Sternfeld, Jim Goldberg)The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NYGroup
1984Photography in California: 1945 to 1980The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CAGroup
1984Photographs from the Museum CollectionSeattle Art Museum, Seattle, WAGroup
1984Landscapes, Figures, ObjectsThe Implied Performance, California State University, Northridge, CAGroup
198320th Century Photographs from the Museum of Modern ArtNew York, NY, Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1983Bay Area CollectsThe San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CAGroup
1983PortraitsConcord Gallery of Contemporary Art, New York, NYGroup
1983Form, Freud and FeelingThe San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CAGroup
1982Jim GoldbergBlue Sky Gallery, Portland, ORSolo
1982Jim Goldberg & Bill OwensCameravision Gallery,Los Angeles, CADuo
1982Five Years at the Creative Photography GalleryCambridge, MAGroup
1981Jim GoldbergO.K. Harris Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1981Jim GoldbergBakersfield College, Bakersfield, CASolo
1980Jim GoldbergEquivalents Gallery, Seattle, WASolo
1980Ruth Bernhard and Jim GoldbergEquivalents Gallery,Seattle, WADuo
1980San Francisco PhotographersPlymouth Art Center,Plymouth, EnglandGroup
1980Photographs from the Theo Jung CollectionThe San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CAGroup
1980Exploring the DocumentaryMary Porter Sesnon Gallery, Santa Cruz, CAGroup
1980Attitudes: Photography in the 70sSanta Barbara Museum of Modern Art, Santa Barbara, CAGroup
1980PhotographsThe San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CAGroup
1980Voice and Vision: Photographs of Jim Goldberg, Duane Michals, Harvey Stein, and James Van der ZeeCreative Photography Gallery, Cambridge, MAGroup
1979Jim GoldbergNova Gallery, Vancouver, BC, CanadaSolo