William Kentridge

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Phaidon Press, Sep 16, 1999 - Art - 160 pages
William Kentridge's (b.1955) black-and-white, animated films offer an emblematic and unprecedented insight into the South Africa of today, from the hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to traces of apartheid's violence in the landscape around Johannesburg. This is the first book to document the work of this extraordinary artist, who exploded on the international art scene in 1997 after working for some 20 years little known outside of his native South Africa. The images in Kentridge's films depict political realities, expressed in terms of individual human suffering. They are patiently made up of dozens of drawings, often made from the erasure as well as the addition of lines and forms. A week's drawing can give rise to just 40 seconds of animation. Socio-political traumas such as apartheid and the Holocaust are enigmatically narrated through his melancholy, tormented images. Like some of the Expressionists who also relied on strong draughtsmanship, such as Max Backman and Kathe Kollwitz, Kentridge presents politically engaged art via depictions of the personal. This invaluable book is the first extensive monograph available on his work.

American curator and critic Dan Cameron surveys Kentridge's work withing the context of politicized art practice while analysing the formal innovations of his animation techniques. European art critic and curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev discusses with the artist the political and philosophical dimensions of his relationship to drawing. Booker Prize-winning South African novelist J. M. Coetzee focusses on the artist's animated film History of the Main Complaint (1996) as a pivotal point in the development of Kentridge's best-known characters Soho Eckstein and Felix Teitlebaum. The Artist's Choice selection is an extract from Confessions of Zeno (1923) by Italo Svevo, which reflects the autobiographical content of the artist's work. Kentridge's writings span meditations on the process of drawing, the political situation in South Africa and traditions of representation upon which he has drawn, ranging from Goya and Hogarth to Beckmann and Eisenstein.

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William Kentridge

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The visceral work of native South African William Kentridge is steeped in the history and culture of his uneasy homeland. Until the mid 1990s, Kentridge was known primarily in South Africa alone, but ... Read full review

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About the author (1999)

Dan Cameron is a curator based in New York. As Senior Curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art he organized such landmark exhibitions as 'Cocido y Crudo' (1994), a survey of from Latin America, and has since gone on to curate the 8th Istanbul Biennial (2003) and the Taipei Biennial (2006). He also serves on the graduate teaching faculty of Columbia University, New York University and School of Visual Arts, New York, and is a frequent contributor to such journals as Parkett, Flash Art and Artforum.

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev is Chief Curator at the Castello di Rivoli, Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli, Italy. In 1998 she curated the first major retrospective exhibition of William Kentridge's work, and in 1999 she edited Arte Povera, also published by Phaidon.

J. M. Coetzee is one of South Africa's most distinguished authors and was awarded the Booker Prize in 1983 for his novel Life & Times of Michael K. His other award-winning novels include In the Heart of the Country (1977) and The Master of Petersburg (1994). Coetzee is also Aderne Professor of English at the University of Cape Town.

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