Works by William Kentridge at Sotheby's
William Kentridge Biography
South African artist William Kentridge is as versatile as he is experimental, producing prints, drawings, performances and animated films. His work presents a fusion of personal biography with international history, focusing largely on apartheid, the years leading up to its development, and the time since its dissolution. He is best known for his animated films, which use his drawings in an innovative manner, through multiple layers, reuses, erasures and doubles. An autobiographical character occupies many of his works, through which Kentridge explores identity in the face of colonialism and political strife, using a satirical yet serious lens.
Kentridge was born in Johannesburg in 1955 to Sydney Kentridge and Felicia Geffen, both anti-apartheid activists and lawyers who defended and represented black South Africans against the apartheid state. He completed his BA in Politics and African Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, a diploma in Fine Arts from the Johannesburg Art Foundation, before studying mime and theater at the École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris. From a young age, Kentridge worked fervently, making dozens of monotypes per year — he is the first artist to have a catalogue raisonné devoted to his juvenilia. He has consistently approached his work through multimedia practice and continues to work with new modes of production including puppets beginning in the 1990s.
Kentridge has exhibited internationally for the last three decades: the New Museum, New York; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Metropolitan Museum, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and many other major museums have organized solo exhibitions of Kentridge’s work. He participated in the Venice Biennale in 1993 and 2005, the 1995 Istanbul Biennial, the 1996 Sydney Biennial, Documenta in 1997 and 2002, the 2000 Shanghai Biennial, and the 2004 Auckland Triennial. He received the Blue Ribbon Award at the American Film Festival in 1985, the Carnegie Prize in 2000, and was short-listed for the Hugo Boss Prize in 1998. Collectors of various media continue to seek out his work; Drawing for Stereoscope sold for $350,000, and Procession sold for $1.5 million, both at Sotheby’s.