Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Jürgen Schadeberg was born in Berlin in 1931. In 1950, he moved to South Africa to re-join his family and joined Drum magazine as official photographer and layout artist.
Schadeberg became a teacher and mentor to some of the most creative South African photographers of his time, like Bob Gosani, Ernest Cole and later Peter Magubane. As one of the few white photographers who photographed daily life among the black community, he became knowledgeable about black life and culture. As a result, he captured on film the beginnings of the freedom movement, the effects of apartheid and the vibrancy of township life.
Schadeberg photographed many historic and pivotal events in the 1950s among them the Defiance Campaign of 1952, the 1956 Treason Trial, the Sophiatown removals of 1955, the Sophiatown jazz and social scene, the Sharpeville funeral of 1960 and pictures of Robben Island inmates. Some of the famous people he photographed include Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Trevor Huddleston and Govan Mbeki. He also documented the Fifties jazz legends such as Dolly Rathebe, Kippie Moeketsi, Thandi Klaasen and Miriam Makeba.
He was forced to leave South Africa in 1964 and went to London. Here he taught and curated photographic exhibitions, notably for the Whitechapel Art Gallery.
He then moved to Spain where he concentrated on a career as an artist. In 1972, he returned to Africa where he accepted a position as photographer for Christian Aid in Botswana and Tanzania.
In 1984, Schadeberg returned to South Africa. He continues to work as a photo-journalist as well as making documentaries about the black community.