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 emigrated 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 African history such as Nelson Mandela, Moroka, Walter Sisulu, Yusuf Dadoo, Huddleston and many others, documented at key moments such as The Defiance Campaign of 1952, The Treason Trial of 1958, The Sophiatown Removals and the Sharpeville Funeral in 1960.
His images also capture key personalities and events in the jazz and literary world such as the Sophiatown jazz scene with Dolly Rathebe, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Kippie Moeketsi.
In 1964 Jurgen left South Africa for London and during the sixeties 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 curated 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 a Retrospective at the South African National Gallery in Cape Town in 1996, a Retrospective in Dublin,2000, New York solo show 2001 a group show at La Maison Europeene de la Photographie, Paris, 2002, Solo show Berlin in 2003, Budapest 2004, a Retrospective in Nicephore Niepce in Chalon Sur Saone in 2004, Neumunster- 55 Years Retrospective - Luxembourg 2005, Bochum Museum Retrospective 2005 and 2006 a touring exhibition of new work 'Voices from the Land' in South Africa. Numerous shows followed in 2006 and 2007 including London, Esslingen, Bayreuth, Koln, Belgium, Oslo, Tuscany, Kunsthalle Wien, Johannesburg. In 2007 Jurgen was awarded the Officer�s Verdienst Kreuz First Class by the German President.
Together with his producer wife Claudia Jurgen established The Schadeberg Movie Company to produce a series of some 15 documentaries about South African social, cultural and political history. He has also published several photographic books.
Jurgen Schadeberg is sometimes known as 'The Father of South African Photography', is a principle figure in South African and World Photography. His major body of work, which spans 60 years and incorporates a collection of some 100,000 negatives, captures a wealth of timeless and iconic images.
These photographs are from The Schadeberg Collection which covers fifty years of work, from the fifties to the nineties. Jürgen Schadeberg documented key cultural, historical and political personalities and events from the fifties in South Africa.
"When I arrived in South Africa in 1950 from Germany I found two societies running in parallel with each other without any communication whatsoever. There was an invisible wall between the two worlds. The Black World, or "Non European World" as described by white society, was culturally and economically rejected by the White World. Only servants and menial workers could enter the White World.
In the fifties The Black World was becoming culturally and politically very dynamic, whereas the White World seemed to me to be isolated, cocooned, colonial and ignorant of the Black World. As a newcomer and outsider I managed to quite easily hop from one world to another-for example "in the evening I might photograph a white masked ball in The City Hall, the next morning an ANC Defiance Campaign meeting, or a shebeen in Sophiatown." all followed by The Durban July.
"My images from the vibrant fifties Black World, "the rejected society", have been extensively covered in South Africa because I felt it was important that both blacks and whites should see what the Verwoerdian ideology had successfully destroyed. My images of The White World were less historically pressing some 20 years ago but now I feel that the time is right to publish them and to show the other side of the coin, the yin and yang, the white face of South Africa in the fifties." Jurgen Schadeberg