William Kentridge

Walking Man, 2000
linocut on paper, number 11 from an edition of 25
251.0 x 101.0 cm
Signed ‘W. Kentridge’ (lower right) and editioned (lower left)


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This work was published by David Krut Fine Art, London and Johannesburg and printed by Artist Proof Studio, Johannesburg.

Annandale Galleries, Sydney
Private collection, Sydney

Another from this edition is held in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Another from the edition was shown in
'Impressions from South Africa 1965 to Now', The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 23 March-29 August 2011

Another from the edition was illustrated in
J. Hecker, 'William Kentridge - Trace: Prints from the Museum of Modern Art', New York, 2010, plate 13

J. Hecker, 'Impressions from South Africa: 1965 to Now', New York, 2011, Illus. p.28

R. Krauss, R. Malbert and K. McCrickard, 'A Universal Archive: Kentridge as Printmaker', London, 2012, illus. p.65

K. McCrickard, 'William Kentridge', London, 2012

Leading South African artist, William Kentridge, is a poetic master within a historically political country. His abiding interest in the formal and thematic possibilities of transformation is a subject that runs deep throughout his oeuvre, most notable in the constantly evolving imagery of his hand drawn films and evocative printmaking.

‘Walking Man’, one of Kentridge’s largest monumental relief prints, was editioned at Artist Proof Studio on South Africa’s largest press. This is a captivating image made from stark contrasts and crisp, pattern-making lines.

The unforgettable image of a man who carries his possessions as he walks and - pressed against the elements - begins to morph into a tree, calls to mind Apartheid marchers and uprooted communities. The undeniable impact of this image is testament to the balance Kentridge always strikes between the political, poetic, whimsical and personal.

Linocut is an important cultural practice in South Africa and one significant to the artist who has said: ‘In South Africa, linocut is the primary form of printmaking, because linoleum is a very cheap material and the tools to make it are very easy …And there’s also a root to linocutting from the various missionaries who brought the technique to South Africa and a link to the German Expressionists whose style obviously comes back to African masks. And so there’s a kind of circularity. It occurred to me that if etching and engraving have to do with the split in northern Europe between the Reformation and other ways of being, then linocutting corresponds to anti-colonialism, certainly in South Africa, to something that comes out of that struggle.’ (William Kentridge in J. Hecker, ‘William Kentridge –Trace: Prints from The Museum of Modern Art’, New York, 2010)

  • Walking Man

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William Kentridge is a South African animator, draughtsman, printmaker and sculptor known for his layered practice of drawing and erasure to create palimpsest-like images. Often using existing pages of text from books or newspaper, Kentridge will draw in pencil, charcoal or ink, creating stop motion animations that, in effect, destroy and replace the previous frame with a new image. His works deliberately leave smudges and other imperfections to reveal the process by which they are made in works that deal with the effects of time, history and the darker aspects of human nature.

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1955, Kentridge studied in South Africa and France and began exhibiting in the 1980s. Descended from Lithuanian Jews who fled Europe during the 1880s pogroms, Kentridge’s parents were anti-apartheid lawyers; his father, Sir Sydney Kentridge, defended Nelson Mandela during the 1956-61 Treason Trials. After a career as an art director on television films and series in the 1980s. From there, he developed his expressionist style to mirror the madness of South African apartheid that shares much in common with Goya’s etchings or the work of the German Expressionists.

For the past decade, Kentridge has created a series of animations, Drawing Lessons, self-interrogations that see him interrogating his own style, references and process: “For anyone who has ever written anything, or drawn anything, or recorded themselves speaking or singing, there’s an enormous difference to one’s sense of self in the moment of making and when you take a step back to become the viewer. As you’re writing, every sentence feels fine. When you’re drawing every line seems necessary. When you’re singing, it sounds great. And when you step back, you are always disappointed.” (William Kentridge, Cristina Ruiz and Ben Luke, ‘Interview: William Kentridge on his life lessons,’ The Art Newspaper, 12 June 2019.)

Kentridge has made 17 animated films, some of which were shown at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. He has had major solo shows around the world, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA (2014, 2013 and 2004); the Louvre, Paris (2010); and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA (2010 and 1999). In 2015, the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, held William Kentridge: Drawn from Africa, which toured nationally to the Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne, Ballarat Art Gallery, Ballarat, and the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston (2016). His most recent major Australian exhibition at a public gallery was William Kentridge: that which we do not remember, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2018-19).