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b. 1955, South Africa

William Kentridge Biography

William Kentridge is a South African artist and draughtsman of Jewish and Lithuanian descent who presents the struggles and emotions of post­-Apartheid South Africa through a multitude of forms, notably  his animated films of charcoal drawings, as well as sculpture, tapestry, opera, and various other media. Through the 1970s, Kentridge studied politics and African studies, as well as fine arts in Johannesburg, and was also heavily involved in theatre. This laid a solid foundation for the structure of his work, informing the dramatic and rather jarring subject and narrative, and also influencing the means of approach and production.

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There is an emphasis on process in his work. Kentridge points out that the viewer can pick up on the labour that has gone into his creative work, which adds  a sense of value and honesty to the piece, as they can 'sympathise' with an object or artwork. Kentridge’s painstaking approach to making his films is a visceral part of the work, as the series of drawings used are put on display alongside the film. This ‘process’ helps to give grounding and added weight to his expressionist style, which often deals with tragedy and graphic, uncomfortable subject matter. An example of this is History of the Main Complaint (1996), which shows a figure being violently beaten and the resulting injuries in an x-ray.

As a member of the South African Resistance Art movement of the 1980s, Kentridge’s work was virtually unknown outside his country, but he has since established an international reputation, exhibiting his drawings and films at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2009), the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2008), and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2004). He has also taken part in the Sydney Biennale on two occasions, 1996 and 2008, and also the documenta, in 1997 and 2002.

William Kentridge resides and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.

William Kentridge, Drawing for City Deep (Zama Zama Pits) (2019). Charcoal and red pencil on paper. 103.5 x 152 cm. Courtesy Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.

William Kentridge Featured Artworks

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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 for Sibyl (Let them think I am a tree) by William Kentridge contemporary artwork
William KentridgeDrawing for Sibyl (Let them think I am a tree), 2019Watercolour and digital print on found pages
27 x 38 cm
Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
Cat by William Kentridge contemporary artwork
William KentridgeCat, 2018Bronze
48 7/8 x 27 1/8 x 21 1/4 inches
Marian Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
Hero by William Kentridge contemporary artwork
William KentridgeHero, 2018Bronze
41 3/8 x 24 3/8 x 23 5/8 inches
Marian 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
Peonies by William Kentridge contemporary artwork
William KentridgePeonies, 2012Mohair tapestry, woven by the Stephens Tapestry Studio, Johannesburg
275 x 306 cm
KEWENIG Enquire
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
Undo Unsay by William Kentridge contemporary artwork
William KentridgeUndo Unsay, 2012One run hand printed lithograph and collage on Munken, Superwove and Phumani archive Mill paper on white Arches 400 gsm
60 x 80 cm
KEWENIG Enquire

William Kentridge Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, William Kentridge, City Deep at Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
Open Now
1 October–12 November 2020 William Kentridge City Deep Goodman Gallery, JohannesburgJohannesburg
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Works on Paper from a Distinguished Private Collection at Pace Gallery, New York
Closed
12–20 August 2020 Group Exhibition Works on Paper from a Distinguished Private Collection 68 Park Place, East HamptonNew York
Contemporary art exhibition, William Kentridge, Something Has Been Postponed‮ at Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
Closed
29 April–19 May 2020 William Kentridge Something Has Been Postponed‮ Goodman GalleryOnline Only

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

Frieze Viewing Room launches to VIPs on Thursday 8 October from 12pm BST, and is open to the public from 9 October. Ocula Art Advisory has been delving into the previews in advance of the official opening, and in this selection you will find ten artworks highlighted by the team.

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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 Ocula Conversation William Kentridge By Keli-Safia Maksud, Toronto

For over 20 years, the legacies of colonialism have been recurring themes in William Kentridge 's work. In 2018, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in recognition of a practice that has consistently charted 'a universal history of war and revolution, evoking the complexities and tensions of...

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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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