Jurgen Schadeberg was born in Berlin in 1931 and, while still in his teens, worked as an apprentice photographer for a German Press Agency in Hamburg. In 1950 he immigrated to South Africa and became Chief Photographer, Picture Editor and Art Director on Drum Magazine.
It was during this time that Jurgen photographed pivotal moments in the lives of South Africans in the fifties. These photographs represent the life and struggle of South Africans during Apartheid and include important figures in South Africa's history such as Nelson Mandela, Moroka, Walter Sisulu, Yusuf Dadoo, Huddleston and many others who have been documented at key moments such as during The Defiance Campaign of 1952, The Treason Trial of 1958, The Sophia town Removals and the Sharpeville Funeral in 1960.
His images also capture key personalities and events in the jazz and literary world such as the Sophia town jazz scene with Dolly Rathebe, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Kippie Moeketsi.
In 1964 Jurgen left South Africa for London and during the sixties and seventies freelanced as a photojournalist in Europe and America for various prestigious magazines. He also taught at the New School in New York, the Central School of Art & Design in London and the Hoch Kunst School in Hamburg. During this period he was the curator several major exhibitions including "The Quality of Life" which opened the New National Theatre in 1976. Before returning to South Africa in 1985 Jurgen lived in London, Spain, New York and France. The photographs from this period represent a rich mix of social documentary work as well as some modernist, abstract images.
Jurgen has had a series of major shows including The Axis Gallery Solo Show in New York in 2001, The Stephen Daiter Gallery Show in Chicago, the Gallery of Photography Solo Retrospective in Dublin in 1999, a Retrospective at the South African National Gallery in Cape Town in 1996, La Maison Europeene de la Photographie in Paris 2002, a Retrospective in Berlin in 2003 and an exhibition in Budapest in 2004.
Jurgen has edited and published several photographic books including "The Finest Photos from the Old Drum", "The Fifties People of South Africa", "Mandela & The Rise of the ANC", "Voices from Robben Island", "Sof'town Blues", and three new books in 2002 "The Black & White Fifties", "The San of the Kalahari" & "Soweto Today". His new book "Witness- 52 years of pointing lenses at Life" is out in 2004.
Together with his producer wife Claudia they established The Schadeberg Movie Company to produce a series of some 15 documentaries about South African social, cultural and political history.
Jurgen Schadeberg, sometimes known as "The Father of South African Photography", is a principle figure in South African and World Photography. His work spans 52 years during which time he has formed a collection of some 100,000 negatives capturing a wealth of iconic images.
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