William Kentridge (born Johannesburg, South Africa, 1955) is internationally acclaimed for his drawings, films, theatre and opera productions.
His practice is born out of a cross-fertilisation between mediums and genres. His work responds to the legacies of colonialism and apartheid, within the context of South Africa's socio-political landscape. 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 theatre training.
Kentridge’s work has been seen in museums and galleries around the world since the 1990s, including Documenta in Kassel, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Albertina Museum in Vienna, Musée du Louvre in Paris, Whitechapel Gallery in London, Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen and the 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, Opera de Lyon, Amsterdam opera, and others. Summer 2017 saw the premiere of Kentridge’s production of Berg’s Wozzeck for the Salzburg Festival.
The 5-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 8-channel video projection shown first seen in Amsterdam in April 2015, and Notes Toward a Model Opera, a three-screen projection looking at the Chinese Cultural Revolution, made for an exhibition in Beijing in 2015; both have been presented in many other cities since. Kentridge’s ambitious yet ephemeral public art project for Rome, Triumphs & Laments (a 500 m frieze of figure 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.
Forthcoming projects include The Head & the Load, a large production to be seen at the Park Avenue Armory in New York and the Tate Turbine Hall in London in 2018.
Kentridge is the recipient of honorary doctorates from several universities including Yale and the University of London, and in 2012 he presented the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University. In 2010, he received the Kyoto Prize. In 2015 he was appointed an Honorary Academician of the Royal Academy in London. In October 2017, he received the Princesa de Asturias Award for the arts.