Lot 104
  • 104

WILLIAM KENTRIDGE | Collage on Leviathan Pages (Commonwealth)

120,000 - 180,000 GBP
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  • William Kentridge
  • Collage on Leviathan Pages (Commonwealth)
  • signed and dated 2000 on the 18th sheet
  • printed paper collage, coloured pencil, graphite and pins on linen, in 24 parts
  • each: 29.2 by 19.1 cm. 11 1/2 by 7 1/2 in.
  • overall: 193.4 by 89.9 cm. 76 1/8 by 35 3/8 in.


Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2000


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate although there are fewer magenta undertones in the original. Condition: This work is in very good and original condition. All sheets are pinned on all four corners and undulate slightly. Some of the edges are torn and have discoloured slightly, and there are further tears and creases throughout, all of which is in keeping with the artist’s choice of found media.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

This theatrical collage comprising 24 uniquely individual character drawings represents a truly rare collection of William Kentridge works based on his Puppet Drawing Series executed in 2000. The brooding figures illustrated in Collage on Leviathan Pages (Commonwealth) have all been delicately cut and assembled from ripped pages of construction paper; their edges blurred forming an incomplete series of images. Their rough outlines are tentative and subject to manipulation with contours personifying a distant cloud or jagged mountain range. However ambivalent the shapes appear, they are clearly characters of intense misery, hunched, cloaked and dragging their emotional oppression. Kentridge’s work focuses on his deep entrenchment in the social and economic situation of South Africa, specifically Johannesburg when he grew up. In his work, which encompasses a variety of media, including drawing and paintings, installations and video or set and costume design for opera and theatre, the artist aims to project a profound personal statement, imbuing all of his production with a deeply authentic biographical narrative, delving into deep exploration of the thorny world of the late apartheid.The ambiguous characters that populate his creations, represent the harrowing result of the unending social devastations of the landscape, with an intense focus on oppression and power divide. The dramatic shadows we see in Collage on Leviathan Pages (Commonwealth) are heightened in melodrama due to their textured monochromatic facade contrasting the intriguing pages they lie on.

Kentridge’s choice for the background of this collage was no accident. The book Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes was written in 1651 and describes the social complexities and warfare of the emerging world and is considered a founding text of Western thought. Kentridge draws comparisons from this body of text to his thoughts towards the hostiles in South Africa. Hobbes highlights "during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is every man against every man"(Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan Volume I, London 2011, n.p.).

Collage on Leviathan Pages (Commonwealth) is a kinetic flow of heightened expressivity where we are drawn into the relationship between each character as our gaze passes over the composition. In parallels to Kentridge’s Procession series, the present work announces the beginning of a fluid production, creating appetite and anticipation for the next scene as the imagery develops. Through Kentridge’s spontaneous inventiveness, the drawings flourish from his accidental and transformative imagination where surrealist techniques animate his creative imagery. Collage on Leviathan Pages (Commonwealth) is a truly unique piece of artistry, combining Kentridge’s delicate interpretation of life following a devastating conflict with Hobbes written accusation of men’s consistent desire for blood, wealth and power.