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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

Exhibition view: Group Exhibition, Lasting Influences, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg (10 June–10 July 2021). Courtesy Goodman Gallery. Photo: Anthea Pokroy. 

William Kentridge Featured Artworks

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My dear friend( he that fled his fate) - Mbinda Cemetery by William Kentridge contemporary artwork
William KentridgeMy dear friend( he that fled his fate) - Mbinda Cemetery, 1994Silkscreen on paper in 6 colours
64 x 76.5 cm
Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
Quintet (Procession) by William Kentridge contemporary artwork
William KentridgeQuintet (Procession), 2020Bronze set of 5
Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
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
News From Nowhere by William Kentridge contemporary artwork
William KentridgeNews From Nowhere, 2007Hand lithograph and collage
160 x 122 cm
KEWENIG Enquire
Traité d'Arithmétique by William Kentridge contemporary artwork
William KentridgeTraité d'Arithmétique, 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 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

William Kentridge Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Lasting Influences at Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
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10 June–10 July 2021 Group Exhibition Lasting Influences Goodman GalleryJohannesburg
Contemporary art exhibition, William Kentridge, Making Prints: Selected Editions 1998–2021 at Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
Closed
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

William Kentridge Represented By

Goodman Gallery contemporary art gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa Goodman Gallery Cape Town, East Hampton, Johannesburg, 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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Derek Fordjour's Vibrant Interactions Ocula Conversation Derek Fordjour's Vibrant Interactions By Paul Laster, Shanghai

Rising star Derek Fordjour discusses his latest solo exhibition at Pond Society in Shanghai.

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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

With Art Basel taking place between 13 and 16 June 2019, here is a selection of some stellar exhibitions to see in the city.

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In Ocula Advisory

Advisory Highlights 
at Frieze New York Advisory Perspective

Ocula Advisory's Rory Mitchell selects ten highlights from the tenth edition of Frieze New York.

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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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