I n 1986, Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado visited the Serra Pelada Gold Mine in Brazil – which, at the time, was the biggest gold mine in the world. What Salgado witnessed astounded him. “I saw these 52,000 men walking under my feet, 100 meters down inside of the ground. I was shocked,” says Salgado. The images are proof of the harsh labour conditions in the Brazilian mining industry.
After visiting Serra Pelada, Salgado was pulled away to other projects and never found the time to edit the photographs – that is until 2016 when an injury left Salgado homebound. While he recovered, Salgado finally returned to the contact sheets from 1986; the result is a book published in 2019 entitled Gold.
Sotheby’s will offer Sebastião Salgado’s Serra Pelada, Gold Mine, Brazil, a portfolio of 20 gelatin silver prints chronicling the mines, in the upcoming auction 50 Masterworks to Celebrate 50 Years of Sotheby’s Photographs, closing 21 April.