Post-apartheid Kentridge drawing could fetch R6m
The 1999 artwork stems from early work which catapulted him to international fame
A post-apartheid William Kentridge artwork that brought him international fame is expected to sell for between £230,000 (R4.5m) and £300,000 (R6m) at an auction on Sunday.
The 120x160cm charcoal and pastel drawing will go on auction at Aspire Art Auctions in Sandton, Johannesburg.
The work is a still in Kentridge’s stop-motion film, Stereoscope, and was produced in 1999, at the time of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that dealt with political crimes under apartheid.
“This work by William Kentridge stems from his early Drawings for Projection, for which the artist is most celebrated and which was the driving force behind his initial rise to international fame and prominence,” said Aspire Art Auctions director Ruarc Peffers.
The contemporary artist is son to Sidney Kentridge, who defended Nelson Mandela in the Treason Trial, saving him from the gallows.
The drawing is one of 65 he used to make the eight-minute, 22-second animated film that was first shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in April 1999.
Kentridge is best known for his prints, drawings and animations. The stop-motion method he uses is an old method where images are drawn and filmed, then changed and filmed again. When the film is played, the drawn images look like they are in motion.
When the artist made the film he said: “I believe that in the indeterminacy of drawing, the contingent way that images arrive in the work, lies some kind of model of how we live our lives. The activity of drawing is a way of trying to understand who we are and how we operate in the world. It is in the strangeness of the activity itself that can be detected judgement, ethics and morality.”
The businessman in the image is Soho Eckstein, Kentridge’s alter ego. Soho is an industrialist and developer found in many of the films Kentridge made from 1989 to 2003.
His brother, Matthew Kentridge, an historian and academic, wrote that Soho was “the embodiment of wealth and greed, arch-capitalist in his privileged world, fat to bursting on the proceeds of exploitation”. After 1996 the character begins to express remorse for his greed and the image for auction shows Soho withdrawing from the world.
Kentridge was born in 1955 in Johannesburg. He received a degree in politics and African studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1976. He studied art at the Johannesburg Art Foundation until 1978, where he was influenced by SA visual artist Dumile Feni.
His introduction to film came when he worked as a set designer for film productions as a student. He moved to Paris in 1981 to study drama at the Ecole Jacques LeCoq international theatre school.
Kentridge acquired international recognition during the 1980s as an artist exploring his own path through the aftermath of apartheid and colonialism.