Dealer Linda Givon, who founded Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg in 1966, has died at age 84. The South African publication Times Live, which first broke the news, reports that Givon’s death was “unexpected.” Goodman Gallery did not immediately provide ARTnews with Givon’s cause of death.
In the early years of the gallery, Givon worked with artists including David Goldblatt, Zwelethu Mthethwa, William Kentridge, Sydney Kumalo, Tracey Rose, and Moshekwa Langa, among others. She sold the gallery, which today also maintains spaces in Cape Town and London, to its current owner and director, Liza Essers, in 2008. Throughout her career, Givon was widely regarded as an influential and prominent dealer in the South African art scene during the latter half of the twentieth century.
Born in 1936, Givon worked at London’s Grosvenor Gallery before setting out to establish Goodman Gallery. She spoke with the New York Times in 2003 about helming the enterprise during the apartheid era, telling the publication, “I decided to go for the artists, when I could, who were confrontational and who were addressing socially important issues.” The gallery has since grown to become one of Africa’s foremost enterprises of its kind, and it now represents over 40 international artists, including El Anatsui, Alfredo Jaar, Shirin Neshat, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Hank Willis Thomas, and others.
In the interview with the Times, Givon said that in South Africa at the time she opened Goodman Gallery “there was a gap to be filled, to promote art that wasn’t desperately decorative or desperately colonial.”
In a statement, Essers said that Givon “was a true force of nature, pioneer, and patron of the arts,” adding, “it is my sincere hope to continue to build upon her legacy.”
“She was a rock in her championship of liberated voices, pens, cameras, pencils, and brushes, and the role of art in a new South Africa,” Neil Dundas, senior curator at Goodman Gallery, said in a statement. “Her influence will be felt for a very long time and her legacy is enormous and shall be treasured by many.”