This print by William Kentridge is part of his recent Studio Life series that the artist created on the heels of the pandemic. During the lockdown, Kentridge had the opportunity to re-examine the mythic status of the artist and to probe at the role of the artist (and their studio) within the context of collective human struggle.
Art writer Jacqueline Flint notes:
“The mythology surrounding the artist’s studio takes many forms: a physical reflection of the artist’s mind in the cases of Jackson Pollock or Francis Bacon, the communal revelry of Andy Warhol’s factory, the calm sanctuary of Donald Judd’s home studio. No matter which you subscribe to there is great curiosity in knowing just what has been influencing the artists who so deeply move us. What books are on the desk? How do they organize their work, their day, their decision making process? William Kentridge, like many of us, was forced to change his typically busy routine when COVID-19 quarantines limited movement and social interactions. For Kentridge, it was an opportunity to re-examine his own artistic practice and the very nature of the creative process.”
This specific print is made from 3 plates transferred from drawing using the direct gravure technique. 2 plates were used to create the wash and staining effect of the background and the lines of the trees and grasses in the foreground, while a 3rd plate was used for text and surface details. While the text relates to past projects by the artist, it is also a universal edict about the power of memory and imagination in visions of the future.
ArtRow is privileged to be partnering with Jillian Ross Print, master printer for William Kentridge, and we are honoured to be able to offer these extraordinary works directly from the print studio.
William Kentridge is a South African artist best known for his prints, drawings, and films that engage with complicated historical legacies of violence and oppression. In particular, his work is strongly informed by growing up under the apartheid regime in Johannesburg, South Africa. His work serves as allegories of the human condition and our relationship to the world at large.
Active since the 1970s, Kentridge’s practice is rooted in avant-garde theatre and politically-engaged modernist art from the early twentieth century. He became known for a sequence of hand-drawn animated films during the 1990s which were constructed by filming a drawing in process, making erasures and changes, and then re-filming it. Through this meticulous process, drawing becomes a field for transformation.
Kentridge was born in Johannesburg in 1955 to a Jewish family of lawyers and activists who were well-known critics of the apartheid system. He held a unique position as a third-party observer to the politics and culture of South Africa that would later directly inform his artistic practice. Kentridge earned a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and African Studies at the University of Witwatersrand and a diploma in Fine Arts from the Johannesburg Art Foundation. In the early 1980s, he studied mime and theatre at the L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris.
Kentridge has received numerous awards for his contributions to the arts, including the Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy, the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts, and the Carnegie Medal.
Notable exhibitions include: The Broad, Los Angeles (2023), Royal Academy, London (2022), Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) (2020-2021), Centro de las Artes de San Agustín (CaSa), Oaxaca (2018-2019), Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Austria (2017), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark (2017), EYE Film institute Netherlands, Amsterdam (2015), Royal Academy (2015), Whitechapel Gallery, Documenta (13) Kassel, Germany (2012), Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow, MOMA, NYC, Israel Museum, Jerusalem all 2011, Louvre, Paris in 2010, HIroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art (2008), Metropolitan Museum of Art (2004), Musée d’art Contemporain, Montreal (2005), Documenta 11, Kassel, Germany 2002, Venice Biennial 1999, and Documenta X 1997.
Kentridge’s works are included in the following permanent collections: Museum of Modern Art in New York, Tate Modern in London, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Honolulu Museum of Art in Hawaii, the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts in Michigan. An edition of the five-channel video installation The Refusal of Time (2012), which debuted at Documenta 13, was jointly acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In 2015, Kentridge gave the definitive collection of his archive and art – films, videos and digital works – to the George Eastman Museum, one of the world’s largest and oldest photography and film collections. Kentridge’s artworks are among the most sought-after works in South Africa.
Kentridge currently resides in Johannesburg and serves as the director of the Centre for the Less Good Idea, an interdisciplinary arts incubator. Kentridge is represented by Goodman Gallery in South Africa, the Marian Goodman Gallery in New York, and the Lia Rumma Gallery in Italy.