William Kentridge
(1955
)

Old Gods Have Retired, 2022

photogravure, sugarlift aquatint, direct gravure, drypoint and hand painted papers on 12 overlapping sheets of Hahnemuhle Natural White, 300 gsm. Papers include found ledgers from the early 1900’s encyclopaedia paper and others. Edition of 20

78.7 × 63 in

 63 x
 78.7

 in

 160 x
 200

 cm

Studio pricing is $45,000 to $55,000 USD. Please enquire for availability.

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About the work

In Old Gods Have Retired by renowned contemporary artist William Kentridge, a tree juts against an expanse of grey sky as its branches extend upwards and outwards, filling the composition of this monumental limited edition print. Layered over the image are fragments of found ledgers from an early twentieth century encyclopaedia, fragments of maps, hand-painted figures, and dislocated texts that interrupt the continuity of the image. Phrases such as “let them think I am a tree” and “reminds me of something I can’t remember” mingle in-between the branches, creating a visual play that evokes the tree as a metaphor for how we experience the world: we piece together fragments of objects, memories, and experience to form a complex, if incomplete, whole. 

Known for his figurative charcoal-based drawings that evoke fractured and unfinished histories, Kentridge’s rich oeuvre interrogates our own relationship to historical erasure. This large-scale multi-plate work was made with twelve overlapping sheets printed from gravure plates secured together with pins. Its origins stem from a life-sized tree drawing that he created in developing the Studio Life series of nine films. Created during the pandemic, Kentridge interrogates how meaning is both made and deconstructed in a time of global fragmentation.

Medium Prints
Signature Signed
Frame Unframed
Condition Excellent
Seller Artist
Location South Africa
Provenance The Artist

William Kentridge

South African
(1955
)

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.

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