Jürgen Schadeberg’s 50-year career places him at the forefront of South African photography. He joined Drummagazine’s staff of three as the photographer in 1951, aged 20. As Drum grew into Africa’s leading lifestyle magazine during the ’50s and early ’60s, Schadeberg edited its look, training several Black photographers.
Schadeberg’s images recorded the vibrant urban Black culture of the 1950s and its growing resistance to racial discrimination, themes with strong parallels to African-American experience. This affirmation of Black experience threatened the Apartheid regime. As Okwui Enwezor remarks, “the work of the Drum photographers exists beyond the realm of the visual and assumes an important ideological function” of transgression and defiance (Enwezor 1996). The Apartheid government realized this; Drum was banned in 1965. Schadeberg moved to London, where he edited Creative Camera and taught photography and film-making at the Central School of Art and Design, and to New York, where he taught photography at the New School.
In 1994, Schadeberg was again able to photograph Mandela as a free man, gazing through the bars of his former cell on Robben Island. Jürgen Schadeberg has returned to live in Johannesburg. Together with his wife, Claudia, he has produced several films and books, which are available through Axis Gallery.
Schadeberg’s work has appeared in numerous exhibitions worldwide.