A monthly feature on an artist currently in the public eye
The Goodman Gallery, Parkwood, Johannesburg
Entrance to the Goodman Gallery
Linda Givon and Norman Catherine
By Sue Williamson (December, 1999)
This month, ArtThrob departs from its usual practice of profiling an artist in the public eye to focus on Linda Givon of the Goodman, galleriste extraordinaire.
It is almost impossible to imagine what the South African art scene would be today had the Goodman Gallery never existed. And Linda Givon is the Goodman Gallery. Returning from an apprenticeship at the prestigious Grosvenor Gallery in London in the mid sixties, Linda Givon (then Goodman) opened the doors of the 'black cube' in Hyde Park in 1966. Apart from a blip five years ago when the art world seemed intolerable and Givon announced she was closing the gallery, only to reconsider and move to a much bigger, more commanding space, the Goodman Gallery has been in the forefront of the art world ever since. Passionate about art, and strongly supportive of her artists, Givon has never felt herself restricted to the gallery, and has sat on committees, banged on government doors to loosen up cultural funds, curated, trod on a number of authoritarian toes, and been immensely enabling in helping art and artists participate in international exhibitions. But in the end a gallery is judged by the quality of the work it shows, and although of course no gallery can get it right 100% of the time, the Goodman has been by far the most consistent over the years, its professionally run shows launching the careers of such artists as William Kentridge, Willie Bester, Kendell Geers and Penny Siopis.
"I'm trying to do something out of a mission of 35 years, during which I've shown modern art from all over the world at the Goodman. In the last 10 years, I've moved more into cutting edge, contemporary art, always taking into account the social demographics of this country. Now we are externalising more and more - using the internet to sell art. Of course, our exchange rate makes it difficult to bring in foreign art - who here can afford it - but I would love to start showing artists from Cuba and Latin America here. The Goodman has stepped beyond the borders of a commercial gallery in helping artists show overseas, but we can't go on doing it - the government must realise how important culture is and start doing their part".
As a celebration of the approaching millennium, the Goodman Gallery has mounted shows in collaboration with all the leading Cape Town galleries, (see listings) including the SANG. On November 29, buses took gallery goers from one venue to another, in an opening event which continued for nearly six hours.
Plans for the future:
Givon would like to reach deeper into Africa and work on collaborations with other artists from the continent. She intends strengthening links with overseas galleries, and as she phrases it, wishes to "take South Africa out of South Africa and put it into the international art world."