William Kentridge was born in 1955 in Johannesburg, where he currently lives and works. Perhaps best known for his stop-motion films of charcoal drawings, the internationally renowned artist also works in etching, collage, sculpture, and the performing arts—opera in particular. Using film, drawing, sculpture, animation, and performance, he transmutes sobering political events into powerful poetic allegories. Aware of the myriad ways in which we construct the world by looking, Kentridge uses stereoscopic viewers and creates optical illusions with anamorphic projection to extend his drawings-in-time into three dimensions. The influence of satirists such as Honoré Daumier, Francisco de Goya, and William Hogarth are evident in his work, and he also often uses classical European themes as frameworks for contemporary African subjects.
Kentridge’s work has been exhibited widely, including at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2014), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2013 and 2004), Tate Modern, London (2012), Documenta, Kassel (2012, 2002, and 1997), the Louvre, Paris (2010), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2009), the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2008), Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2007), the Venice Biennale (2005, 1999, and 1993), Centres Georges Pompidou, Paris (2002), and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC (2002), among others. Kentridge is the recipient of the Kyoto Prize (2010), the Oskar Kokoschka Prize (2008), the Kaiserring Prize (2003), the Carnegie Prize at the Carnegie International (1999/2000), the Standard Bank Young Artist Award (1987), and the Red Ribbon Award for Short Fiction (1982). His opera and theater works, many produced in collaboration with Handspring Puppet Company, have appeared at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (2007), the Standard Bank National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, South Africa (1992, 1996, 1998), and Festival d’Avignon, France (1995 and 1996). His production of Dmitri Shostakovich’s opera The Nose premiered in 2010 at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, in conjunction with a retrospective organized by San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.