Collection 1950s–1970s


Ernest Cole’s House of Bondage

Through Apr 7


Ernest Cole. Untitled. c. 1960. Gelatin silver print, 9 7/16 × 11 15/16" (24 × 30.3 cm). The Family of Man Fund. © Ernest Cole/Magnum Photos
  • MoMA, Floor 4, 409 The David Geffen Wing

“Three hundred years of white supremacy in South Africa have placed us in bondage, stripped us of dignity, robbed us of self-esteem, and surrounded us with hate,” wrote Ernest Cole in the introduction to his photobook House of Bondage. First published in 1967, it exposed viewers around the world to the many forms of violence embedded in everyday life under apartheid—a government-sanctioned system of spatial segregation on the grounds of race. Working methodically and at times in secret, Cole traversed the country to expose apartheid’s forms of economic oppression and how its laws had displaced landowners, separated families, and eroded the educational system for Black students.

This gallery presents a group of recently acquired prints from House of Bondage, together with books, magazines, screenprints, and photographs by artists who took on the subject of apartheid in South Africa following Cole. They offer unflinching critiques of racism in works that document the atmospheric trauma exuded in seemingly commonplace scenes.

Organized by Lucy Gallun, Associate Curator, and Oluremi Onabanjo, Associate Curator, with Kaitlin Booher, Newhall Curatorial Fellow, Department of Photography.

43 works online


Installation images

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