David Lurie

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David Lurie (born 1951) is an artist, ideas-based photographer, and visual ethnographer, based in Cape Town, South Africa. His photographic projects expose the issues of urbanization in the modern world; in particular, the problems caused by the mass influx of immigrants into modern cities, and the ways in which people find hope in the face of daily hardship. He is represented by Sulger-Buel Lovell Gallery, (London, UK | Cape Town, SA). Website: www.davidlurie.co.uk [1]

Life and career[edit]

David Lurie was born in Cape Town. He studied economics, politics and philosophy and then taught philosophy at the University of Cape Town. From 1980 to 1985 he undertook research in the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics, and co-edited "Millenium", Journal of International Studies, after which he worked as a consultant-economist in London. A self-taught photographer, he began doing documentary projects part-time in 1990 and full-time in 1995, following the publication of his first book, Life in the Liberated Zone, in 1995. After living in London for 31 years, Lurie moved back to Cape Town in 2011.

Lurie describes his work as an artist in the following terms: "Any working artist or photographer needs to be steeped in what came before: to understand it, digest it, work out why and how it had changed things, and to decide where that leaves one, as a potential artist. In that sense, my work is a conversation with what is already there, has gone before, and the'reversioning' of something else which is entirely new. (Acknowledgement to the pianist & genius, Vijay Iyer, for the concept of 'reversioning'.) My work requires careful conceptualisation and preparation; however the moment of image making is one of spontaneity, improvisation, performance." [1][2]

Exhibitions, Art Fairs, Awards[edit]

Solo Exhibitions:

Lurie’s work has been widely published and he has exhibited in the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States, Australia, South Africa and the Middle East. He is the recipient of numerous awards including Pictures of the Year International; the World Understanding Award for "Cape Town Fringe: Manenberg Avenue is where it’s Happening"; Nikon (UK); Ilford Pro Photo (SA); and several Arts Council of Great Britain Grant Awards.

‘Bitter Harvest’: 1992 [UK, Europe, US, South Africa]* ‘Life in the Liberated Zone’: 1993 [UK, Europe, US, South Africa]* ‘After Apartheid: South Africa’s black middle class’: 1995 [ Commissioned by the Getty Museum, Los Angeles; toured US with ‘Life in the Liberated Zone’.]. Black Gallery, Los Angeles. ‘Struggling to Share the Promised Land’: 2001 [UK, Germany, Bahrain, South Africa]* District Six Museum, Cape Town. Museum Africa, Johannesburg. Woolfson & Tay, 2011 ‘Cape Town Fringe: Manenberg Avenue is where it’s Happening’. [Side Gallery, Newcastle, March - May, 2004. Cape Town [SA National Gallery], Johannesburg [PhotoZA Gallery], Amsterdam. *

*commissioned by Side Photography Gallery, Newcastle.

‘Images of Table Mountain’ . [Cape Town International Book Fair (2006); Bell Roberts Gallery, Cape Town (2006); Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg (2007). Hereford Photography Festival, UK (2007). ‘Fragments from the Edge’, [Joao Ferreira Gallery, Cape Town [2008, for the Month of Photography. Cape Town International Book Fair, CTICC, Cape Town (June, 2009). ] ‘The Right To Refuge’, Holocaust Museum, Cape Town. June & July, 2010. ‘Off Side: Cape Town 2010’, Association of Visual Arts (AVA) Gallery, Cape Town, June & July, 2010 ‘The Long Street Show’, Association of Visual Arts (AVA) Gallery, Cape Town. March, 2011. ‘Encounters at the Edge’, Photographers’ Gallery, Cape Town. 11 July – 31 August 2012

           Bekris Gallery, San Francisco, USA. 1 November 2012 – 7 January 2013.

Constitution Hill, Johannesburg. April, 2013. 'Morning After Dark', Commune.1 Gallery, Cape Town, SA. (23 September – 23 October 2014). Museum Africa, Johannesburg, SA. May–July, 2015. Sasol Kunsmuseum, Stellenbosch University, SA. August–October, 2015.


'Writing the City', SA Jewish Museum (Cape Town); Hazard Gallery, (Johannesburg); Sulger-Buel Lovell Gallery, London, UK.

'History, Myth, Memory', (completed during a residency at Nirox Foundation, Cradle of Humankind in 2015), various venues (2016); to be finalised. Selected Group Exhibitions 'Three Essays by South African Photographers', Portfolio Gallery, London. July & August, 1990. (Lurie: “Bitter Harvest”; David Goldblatt: “The Transported”; Omar Badsha: “Imijondolo”.) 'Cities in Crisis: Photographs of the South African Urban Landscape', FADA Gallery, University of Johannesburg. April & May, 2008. Curated by Professor Michael Godby and Dave Southwood. ‘From Pierneef to Gugulective – 1910-2010: Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town. Group show. April – September, 2010. ‘Present History II’, Photographers’ Gallery, Cape Town. September, 2011 ‘On the Beat – Photography Now’, Photographers’ Gallery. Cape Town, 2012 ‘Home’, Jewish Museum. Cape Town. Month of Photography/5. 2012. ‘In the Blink of An Eye’, Luoca Art Museum in Xiamen, China. 2013 'Fine Art-Selection 2014', ARTCO Gallery, Aachen, Germany. November–December, 2014. 'Street Level', WorldArt Gallery, Cape Town, SA. June–July, 2015. Curated by Andrew Lamprecht. 'Fascination Photography', Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg / Vienna, 13 November 2015 - 31 January 2016) Exhibition includes Andreas Gursky, Thomas Struth, Thomas Demand, Thomas Ruff, Massimo Vitale. Curator by Günther Oberhollenzer.

Selected Art Fairs[edit]

‘Hereford Photography Festival’, UK (2007). ‘Jo’burg Art Fair’, 2011 [Sovereign Art Foundation ‘finalists’ exhibition] ‘Photo LA Art Fair’, Los Angeles. January, 2012 ‘Contemporary Art Fair’, Zurich, Switzerland. 12 – 14 October 2012. ‘Photo LA Art Fair’, Los Angeles. January, 2013. ‘Cape Town Art Fair’, Cape Town. February, 2014. ‘Jo’burg Art Fair’, Johannesburg, SA. August, 2014. 'Turbine Art Fair', Johannesburg, SA. July, 2015. 'Jo'burg Art Fair', Johannesburg, SA. September, 2015.

Public Collections[edit]

Iziko National Gallery Side Gallery, Newcastle Bradford Museums & Galleries Getty Centre for Arts & Humanities (Los Angeles) Black Gallery (Los Angeles) Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg, Austria Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, California.


Arts Council of Great Britain Grant Awards (several) ‘Pictures of the Year International’ (POYi) [Magazine Feature]: 1992 Ilford Profoto (South Africa) [documentary features]: 1992 Nikon UK [Feature story]: 2000

“World Understanding Award” at the 61st Annual ‘Pictures of the Year International’ (POYi) Competition, for “Cape Town Fringe: Manenberg Avenue is where it’s Happening”. 2004

Sovereign Art Foundation / Sovereign African Art Prize: Finalist. 2011.

Published books[edit]

‘Life in the Liberated Zone’ (Cornerhouse, UK. 1995)

          ‘Cape Town Fringe: Manenberg Avenue is where it’s Happening’.(Double Storey Books, SA. 2004). 
          ‘Images of Table Mountain’, (Bell-Roberts, SA. 2006). 
          ‘Encounters at the Edge’, (exhibition catalogue, Erdmann Contemporary, Cape Town, 2013).
          ‘Morning After Dark’, (exhibition catalogue, Commune.1 Gallery,  Cape Town; ARTCO Art Gallery, Germany, 2014. Reprinted, Sulger-Buel Lovell Gallery, Cape Town | London, 2015.)

'Writing the City', (exhibition catalogue, Sulger-Buel Lovell Gallery, Cape Town | London. September, 2015.

          ‘The Right to the City’, To be published in 2016.


  1. ^ a b "About", David Lurie's personal website.
  2. ^ "David Lurie", South African History Online.

External links[edit]