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b. 1955, South Africa

William Kentridge Biography

William Kentridge is a South African artist known for his animated films and drawings, as well as sculpture, tapestry, and works in other mediums that examine the struggles and emotions of post-Apartheid South Africa.

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Often using inexpensive, commonplace materials such as charcoal, pastels, and paper, William Kentridge makes drawings of human figures and landscapes in an expressionist manner. The dramatic stylisation of Kentridge's work reflects his inspiration from satire and artists including Honoré Daumier, Francisco de Goya, and William Hogarth.

Kentridge's work often addresses violence and trauma, and the processes of commemoration and forgetting. In his 2018 conversation with Ocula Magazine, the artist said that, for him, a close relationship exists between the human body and the landscape, 'both in the sense of the work that is done on the landscape, from its defacement and construction—a bit like the changes that can be affected on a person.'

An integral part of William Kentridge's practice is the emphasis on process. For the animated short film Felix in Exile (1994), for example, he made large-scale charcoal drawings, erased parts of them, and made changes. Kentridge photographs each alteration, later sequencing the images into an animation. Throughout the film, the traces of earlier drawings add weight and a sense of traumatic loss.

Felix in Exile belongs to 'Drawings for Projection' (1989–2003), a series of films made from drawings that navigates South Africa in the years leading up to and following the end of Apartheid. Another film in the series, History of the Main Complaint (1996) was made similarly by drawing and redrawing 21 artworks, and follows the story of a white property-developing magnate who is violently beaten and hospitalised.

Though well-established in South Africa, William Kentridge's work was slow to receive international attention until 1999, when his solo exhibition William Kentridge travelled to Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Serpentine Gallery, London; and Kunstverein München, Munich, among others.

Ocula | 2021

William Kentridge, Pocket Drawings 187-241 (2016). 3 run lithographic print on 63 panels, mounted on cotton fabric. Edition of 25 + 3AP. 80.3 x 98.1 cm; 94.6 x 112.4 x 7 cm (incl. frame). Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery.

William Kentridge Featured Artworks

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Mantegna by William Kentridge contemporary artwork
William KentridgeMantegna, 2016Woodcut printed from 12 woodblocks onto 21 sheets of various sizes of Somerset Soft
200.7 x 205.7 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
Telephone Woman by William Kentridge contemporary artwork
William KentridgeTelephone Woman, 2000Linolium on Mulberry paper
223 x 119.1 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
Singer Trio by William Kentridge contemporary artwork
William KentridgeSinger Trio, 2019Singer sewing machines, wood, mild steel, aluminium, found objects and electrical components
163 x 176 x 50 cm
Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
News From Nowhere by William Kentridge contemporary artwork
William KentridgeNews From Nowhere, 2007Hand lithograph and collage
160 x 122 cm
KEWENIG Enquire
Duo (His and Hers) by William Kentridge contemporary artwork
William KentridgeDuo (His and Hers), 2020Set of 2 'Cursive' figures; bronze
Almine Rech Contact Gallery
Drawing for Sibyl (Two dancers, Petrel) by William Kentridge contemporary artwork
William KentridgeDrawing for Sibyl (Two dancers, Petrel), 2019Indian ink on found pages
27 x 38 cm
Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
Drawing from "Preparing the Flute" (Temple) by William Kentridge contemporary artwork
William KentridgeDrawing from "Preparing the Flute" (Temple), 2005Charcoal and pastel on paper
120.7 x 160 cm
Pace Gallery
That Which I Do Not Remember from Triumphs and Laments by William Kentridge contemporary artwork
William KentridgeThat Which I Do Not Remember from Triumphs and Laments, 2017Arrangement of 13 woodcuts onto 26 sheets of Somerset Velvet, Soft White paper, each with relief printing, assembled with 56 aluminium pins
82 1/2 x 78 1/2 inches
Krakow Witkin Gallery Contact Gallery

William Kentridge Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, William Kentridge, Making Prints: Selected Editions 1998–2021 at Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
Closing Soon
16 March–17 April 2021 William Kentridge Making Prints: Selected Editions 1998–2021 Marian Goodman GalleryNew York
Contemporary art exhibition, William Kentridge, Room #2 at KEWENIG, Berlin
Closed
2–27 February 2021 William Kentridge Room #2 KEWENIGBerlin
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Did you ever think there would come a time? at Goodman Gallery, Cape Town
Closed
19 December 2020–20 February 2021 Group Exhibition Did you ever think there would come a time? Goodman GalleryCape Town

William Kentridge Represented By

Goodman Gallery contemporary art gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa Goodman Gallery Johannesburg, Cape Town, London
KEWENIG contemporary art gallery in Berlin, Germany KEWENIG Berlin, Palma
Marian Goodman Gallery contemporary art gallery in New York, USA Marian Goodman Gallery New York, Paris, London

William Kentridge In Ocula Magazine

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Frieze Viewing Room: Ten Advisory Selections Ocula Insight Frieze Viewing Room: Ten Advisory Selections By Rory Mitchell, London

Ocula Advisory highlights ten artworks showing in Frieze Viewing Room.

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Art Basel Lowdown: Shows to See Ocula Feature Art Basel Lowdown: Shows to See By Tessa Moldan, Basel

To coincide with Art Basel 2019, which opens to the public from 13 to 16 June, galleries and institutions across the city are presenting a range of stellar exhibitions. From Rebecca Horn at Museum Tinguely to Geumhyung Jeong at Kunsthalle Basel, here is a selection of what to see. William Kentridge, Dead Remus (2014–2016). Charcoal on...

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Armory Week Lowdown: Shows to See Ocula Feature Armory Week Lowdown: Shows to See By Sharmistha Ray, New York

The Armory Show opens to the public on 7 March (running to 10 March 2019)—just about a week after the fair relocated a portion of its 194 exhibitors due to structural issues found in Pier 92, forcing its sister fair Volta to cancel its 2019 show so that Armory could occupy its Pier 90 venue. Despite the upheaval, New York 's art week is...

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William Kentridge In Related Press

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William Kentridge’s Indictment of Colonial and Apartheid Injustice Related Press William Kentridge’s Indictment of Colonial and Apartheid Injustice 26 September 2019, Frieze

What does it mean to speak? To speak in a way that not only broaches the moral ambiguities of silence, but also probes the limits of speech's capacity to make sense of the world. William Kentridge, the Johannesburg artist and theatre director, addresses this question in a 2018 essay titled 'Let Us Try for Once'. The text forms part of a dispersed...

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THAT WHICH WE DO NOT REMEMBER WILLIAM KENTRIDGE Related Press THAT WHICH WE DO NOT REMEMBER WILLIAM KENTRIDGE 1 March 2019, ArtAsiaPacific

As I looked through William Kentridge's That Which We Do Not Remember at Sydney's Art Gallery of New South Wales, led by the multimedia artist himself, it became increasingly apparent to me that Kentridge, often described as a distinctive and powerful voice in the global contemporary art realm, is both erudite and generous with his ideas.

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William Kentridge’s Real and Metaphorical Cages Illuminate a Protest on Deportation Related Press William Kentridge’s Real and Metaphorical Cages Illuminate a Protest on Deportation 16 August 2018, Hyperallergic

MILWAUKEE—The current William Kentridge exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum, More Sweetly Play the Dance, is an immersive 2015 installation: a 14-minute video loop projected on a series of eight screens, 130 feet long in total. The screens unfold like an accordion book, not quite aligning, leaving small gaps that create page breaks in...

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William Kentridge and the forgotten victims of Africa’s Great War Related Press William Kentridge and the forgotten victims of Africa’s Great War 6 July 2018, Financial Times

Does art have the power to affect people’s view of war and politics? In the years during and following the first world war, art did its best to reflect the desolation and sense of waste prompted by the monstrous number of lives lost between 1914 and 1918. Art and literature portrayed a world that had fallen apart and lost its moorings to meaning:...

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