Whether it be the caste system of India, the serfdoms of Medieval yesteryear or the 99% vs. the 1% occupy movement, the disparity between the wealthy and downtrodden has always sparked controversy, concern and wide ranging debates. Back in 1984, Jim Goldberg released Rich and Poor, a portrayal of the American dream in San Francisco featuring both sides of the financial spectrum. An eight year endeavor, when it was finally released to the public, it was met with critical acclaim; notably it was featured as part of the “Three Americans” exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. Random House initially published the title a year later.
One of the series’ hallmarks is its use of handwritten text incorporated into each portrait: the subjects, photographed in their own environments, were invited by Goldberg to comment on and write directly on the prints. Their observations—from glib to delusional to painful—reveal fears, aspirations, and perceptions with an engrossing frankness that informs the straightforward portraits with a sense of personal struggle and subjectivity.
Out of print since 1985, Jim Goldberg’s Rich and Poor is now available in a new Steidl edition that has been completely redesigned and expanded by the artist. Now in hardcover for the first time, the book builds upon the foundation of the original with never-before-published vintage material and an accordion-fold insert of contemporary color photographs taken on the streets of San Francisco’s disparate neighborhoods. Goldberg contrasts the “rich” on one side of the long foldout, with the “poor” on the other, giving palpable testimony to ever-persisting economic differences. With current income disparities between the classes only growing, this new edition of Rich and Poor is timely and more relevant than ever.
Jim Goldberg was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1953. He has been working with experimental storytelling for over thirty years, with major projects including Rich and Poor (1977-85), Raised by Wolves (1985-95), and Open See (2003-present). He joined Magnum Photos in 2002. He has been awarded three NEA grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Henri Cartier-Bresson Award (2007), and the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize (2011).
Steidl’s reissue has been expanded and designed by Goldberg himself, with 158 images spanning 222 pages. It’s due to be out in August of this year, retails for $90.00.
For More Information: Jim Goldberg