Program Books/William Kentridge

William Kentridge


William Kentridge (born Johan­­nes­burg, South Africa, 1955) is in­ter­nationally acclaimed for his drawings, films, theater, and opera pro­duc­tions. His practice is born out of a cross-fertilization between mediums and genres. His work responds to the legacies of colonialism and Apartheid, within the context of South Africa’s socio-political landscape, and his aesthetics are drawn from the medium of film’s own history, from stop-motion animation to early special effects. Kentridge’s drawing, specifically the dynamism of an erased and redrawn mark, is an integral part of his expanded animation and filmmaking practice, where the meanings of his films are developed during the process of their making. Kentridge’s practice also incorporates his theater training. His work has been seen in museums and galleries around the world since the 1990s, including at the Documenta in Kassel, Muse­um of Modern Art in New York, Albertina Museum in Vienna, Musée du Louvre in Paris, Whitechapel Gallery in London, Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen, and Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid. Opera pro­ductions include Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Shostakovich’s The Nose, and Alban Berg’s Lulu, and have been seen at opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala in Milan, English National Opera in London, and Opera de Lyon. Sum­mer 2017 saw the premiere of Kentridge’s production of Berg’s Wozzeck for the Salz­burg Festival. The five-channel video and sound installation The Refusal of Time was made for Documenta (13) in 2012; since then it has been seen in cities around the world. More Sweetly Play the Dance, an eight-channel video projection first seen in Amsterdam in April 2015, and Notes Toward a Model Opera, a three-screen pro­jection looking at the Chinese Cultural Revo­lution and made for an exhibition in Beijing in 2015, have been presented in many other cities since. Kentridge’s ambitious yet ephemeral public art project for Rome, Triumphs & Laments (a 500-meter frieze of figures power-washed from pollution and bacterial growth on the walls of the Tiber River) opened in April 2016 with a performance of live music com­posed by Philip Miller and a procession of shadow figures. Other projects include The Head & the Load, a large production seen at the Park Avenue Armory in New York and at the Tate Turbine Hall in London (2018). Kentridge is the recipient of honorary doctorates from several universities, including Yale, London University, and Columbia University, and in 2012 he presented the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University. In 2010, he received the Kyoto Prize, and in 2015 he was appointed an Honorary Academician of the Royal Academy in Lon­don. Kentridge received the Princesa de Asturias Award for the Arts in 2017, and the Antonio Feltrinelli International Prize in 2018. In 2019, he received the Praemium Imperiale award in painting in Tokyo. In 2022, he was presented the Honor of the Order of the Star of Italy and the Queen Sonja Lifetime Achieve­ment Award for printmaking.