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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 Featured Artworks

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Drawing for Waiting for the Sibyl (Composite of Trees I) by William Kentridge contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, drawing
William KentridgeDrawing for Waiting for the Sibyl (Composite of Trees I), 2019Indian ink on found pages
85 x 146.2 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
Drawing for Waiting for the Sibyl (12 Leaves) by William Kentridge contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, drawing
William KentridgeDrawing for Waiting for the Sibyl (12 Leaves), 2021Indian ink on found pages
83.2 x 147.2 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
Drawing for Waiting for the Sibyl (24 Leaves) by William Kentridge contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, drawing
William KentridgeDrawing for Waiting for the Sibyl (24 Leaves), 2021Indian ink on found pages
111 x 231 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
Drawing for Love Songs from the Last Century by William Kentridge contemporary artwork works on paper, drawing
William KentridgeDrawing for Love Songs from the Last Century, 2017Charcoal and collage on paper
115 x 582 cm
Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
Love Songs from the Last Century by William Kentridge contemporary artwork moving image
William KentridgeLove Songs from the Last Century, 2017HD 360 degree virtual reality film, 3 min 53 sec
Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery
News From Nowhere by William Kentridge contemporary artwork works on paper, print
William KentridgeNews From Nowhere, 2007Hand lithograph and collage
160 x 122 cm
KEWENIG Enquire
Traité d'Arithmétique by William Kentridge contemporary artwork works on paper, print
William KentridgeTraité d'Arithmétique, 2007Hand lithograph and collage
160 x 122 cm
KEWENIG Enquire
Drawing from Preparing the Flute (Temple) by William Kentridge contemporary artwork works on paper, drawing
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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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 London, New York, Paris

William Kentridge In Ocula Magazine

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In Ocula Advisory

William Kentridge In Related Press

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