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William Kentridge (Contemporary Artists Series) [Paperback]

Dan Cameron , Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev , J M Coetzee
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

16 Sep 1999 Contemporary Artists Series
William Kentridge's (b.1955) black-and-white, animated films offer an emblematic and unprecedented insight into the South Africa of today, from the hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to traces of apartheid's violence in the landscape around Johannesburg. This is the first book to document the work of this extraordinary artist, who exploded on the international art scene in 1997 after working for some 20 years little known outside of his native South Africa. The images in Kentridge's films depict political realities, expressed in terms of individual human suffering. They are patiently made up of dozens of drawings, often made from the erasure as well as the addition of lines and forms. A week's drawing can give rise to just 40 seconds of animation. Socio-political traumas such as apartheid and the Holocaust are enigmatically narrated through his melancholy, tormented images. Like some of the Expressionists who also relied on strong draughtsmanship, such as Max Backman and Kathe Kollwitz, Kentridge presents politically engaged art via depictions of the personal. This invaluable book is the first extensive monograph available on his work.

American curator and critic Dan Cameron surveys Kentridge's work withing the context of politicized art practice while analysing the formal innovations of his animation techniques. European art critic and curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev discusses with the artist the political and philosophical dimensions of his relationship to drawing. Booker Prize-winning South African novelist J. M. Coetzee focusses on the artist's animated film History of the Main Complaint (1996) as a pivotal point in the development of Kentridge's best-known characters Soho Eckstein and Felix Teitlebaum. The Artist's Choice selection is an extract from Confessions of Zeno (1923) by Italo Svevo, which reflects the autobiographical content of the artist's work. Kentridge's writings span meditations on the process of drawing, the political situation in South Africa and traditions of representation upon which he has drawn, ranging from Goya and Hogarth to Beckmann and Eisenstein.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press; 1 edition (16 Sep 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714838292
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714838298
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 25.6 x 29.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 538,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'A magnificent book, appealingly designed and filled with valuable information.' (Mail & Guardian, South Africa)

'The boldest, best executed, and most far-reaching publishing project devoted to contemporary art. These books will revolutionize the way contemporary art is presented and written about.' (Artforum)

'The combination of intelligent analysis, personal insight, useful facts and plentiful pictures is a superb format invaluable for specialists but also interesting for casual readers, it makes these books a must for the library of anyone who cares about contemporary art.' (Time Out)

'A unique series of informative monographs on individual artists.' (The Sunday Times)

'Gives the reader the impression of a personal encounter with the artists. Apart from the writing which is lucid and illuminating, it is undoubtedly the wealth of lavish illustrations which makes looking at these books a satisfying entertainment.' (The Art Book)

About the Author

Dan Cameron is a curator based in New York. As Senior Curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art he organized such landmark exhibitions as 'Cocido y Crudo' (1994), a survey of from Latin America, and has since gone on to curate the 8th Istanbul Biennial (2003) and the Taipei Biennial (2006). He also serves on the graduate teaching faculty of Columbia University, New York University and School of Visual Arts, New York, and is a frequent contributor to such journals as Parkett, Flash Art and Artforum.

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev is Chief Curator at the Castello di Rivoli, Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli, Italy. In 1998 she curated the first major retrospective exhibition of William Kentridge's work, and in 1999 she edited Arte Povera, also published by Phaidon.

J. M. Coetzee is one of South Africa's most distinguished authors and was awarded the Booker Prize in 1983 for his novel Life & Times of Michael K. His other award-winning novels include In the Heart of the Country (1977) and The Master of Petersburg (1994). Coetzee is also Aderne Professor of English at the University of Cape Town.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars William Kentridge 9 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Got this book second hand from Amazon. Came nicely on time and in very good condition and so great value. This book opened my eyes both to the techniques used by Kentridge and to all his thinking about and during his stop motion work. I dip into the book regularly as a spur to my own studies and no doubt will try to capture some of my own drawings or paintings this way. An inspiration.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Kentridge 5 Jun 2010
Very good book on Kentridge with excellent illustrations and a lot of information on him and his work.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a very interesting artist 17 Sep 2002
By jym davis - Published on Amazon.com
I leave off a "star" only because viewing Kentridge's drawings can not substitute the experience of viewing his films. Indeed, looking the charcoal drawings I wonder at what stage of the sequence it is in. Is this the last step in the drawing? Looking at a drawing outside of its time base can also be a positive. I love searching the surface for smudge marks and erased hands and arms. His drawings end up being a record of movement (something that most single drawings fail to capture). For anyone who doesn't know, by the way, Kentridge animates his charcoal drawings using filmic stop motion techniques. The results are amazing. Anyone interested in drawing and painting, the birth of early film, and South African Politics: here is your artist.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catalog of an Incredible Exhibition 12 Oct 2002
By alan_in_la - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
William Kentridge is a white South African born in 1955. He is best known for animations, based on large charcoal paintings, which have as their subject the complexity of living a meaningful life in the warped society of South Africa.
Kentridge makes the films by working on the charcoal paintings, then clicking the film camera one frame at a time. He then walks back to the painting and works on it, before exposing another twenty-fifth of a second.
Kentridge is articulate and interesting and has established himself as a great artist in the tradition of Hogarth, Daumier and the German expressionists. His exhibition, which closed here in Los Angeles last week, was breathtaking. This book is the catalog of that exhibition.
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