Jim Goldberg (b. 1953, New Haven, Conn.) received a BA in photography and education from Western Washington University, Bellingham, in 1975, and an MFA in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1979.
Goldberg’s willingness to establish in-depth and long-term collaborations with marginalized social groups, his readiness to tackle difficult subject matter, and his landmark use of image and text have positioned him as one of today’s most influential photographers. Past projects include series on San Francisco’s wealthy and financially depressed communities, “Rich and Poor” (1977-85); homeless and runaway adolescents in Los Angeles and San Francisco, “Raised by Wolves” (1986-95); and the elderly, “Hospice” (1992-93). Recently, Goldberg has been developing an autobiographical body of work using text and photographs to create a visual and written diary; “Another Story,” an excerpt from this work, was shown at Pace/MacGill Gallery in 2005.
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.” As a member of the agency Magnum Photos, Goldberg participated in a project commissioned by the Hellenic Cultural Heritage Society titled “Periplus”; his most recent series (2004) documents Athens’s diverse immigrant and refugee communities.
Since receiving his first solo show in 1979, Goldberg has exhibited both in the United States and internationally. Early in his career, the Museum of Modern Art in New York included prints from “Rich and Poor” in the 1984 group exhibition “Three Americans (Robert Adams, Joel Sternfeld, Jim Goldberg).” Propelled by the success of that show, Goldberg’s reputation grew and his work reached an increasingly diverse cross-section of audiences and cultural institutions. The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Mass., co-organized and mounted “Raised by Wolves” in collaboration with the Zurich Museum of Design (1995-96); venues also included the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1997), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1997), and the Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach (1997-98). The Corcoran Gallery of Art later organized “Hospice: A Photographic Inquiry,” a show that traveled to over 15 venues around the country over a period of four years (1996-2000). On the occasion of the 2004 Summer Olympics, the Benaki Museum in Athens hosted “Periplus, 12 Magnum Photographers in Contemporary Greece,” which included Goldberg’s recent work.
Goldberg has been honored with three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1980, 1989, 1990); a Guggenheim Fellowship (1985); the Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography Award (1989); two Art Matters, Inc., awards (1989, 1992); the Ernst Haas Award for Photography Book of the Year (1995); a Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation grant (1997); and an Alpert/Ucross Residency Prize (2003). He has held numerous teaching positions, including those at the San Francisco Art Institute (1981-2000) and the California College of the Arts in Oakland (1987-2004).
Goldberg’s work belongs to many public and private collections, including the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Mass.; the Akron Museum of Art, Ohio; the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum für Gestaltung, Zurich; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Seattle Art Museum; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Monographs of Goldberg’s work include Sublime Intent (1988); Rich and Poor (1988); Raised by Wolves (1995); and Hospice: A Photographic Inquiry (1996).
Goldberg lives and works in San Francisco.