Strauss & Co, South Africa’s leading auction house, is thrilled to be offering two important early drawings from William Kentridge’s celebrated cycle of stop-animation films known as Drawings for Projection.
A globally recognised artist whose work forms part of Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa’s launch exhibitions, Kentridge’s short films are the outcome of idiosyncratic drawing method. Using charcoal, the artist draws, erases and redraws scenes, incrementally developing his narrative. Premièred at the Weekly Mail Film Festival in October 1989, Johannesburg, 2nd Greatest City after Paris (1989) is the first film in Kentridge’s Drawings for Projection cycle. It has been widely exhibited and was favourably received by Arthur Danto and Blake Gopnik, two important contemporary American art critics, in 2001. The narrative of the film revolves around a property developer named Soho Eckstein, his estranged wife, and a dreamy interloper named Felix Teitlebaum, who in Kentridge’s words gives Mrs Eckstein “a gift of love”. The eight-minute film was composed of 25 charcoal and pastel drawings. Drawing for Johannesburg Second Greatest City After Paris (estimate R2 – R3 million) portrays Teitlebaum, who is often interpreted as Kentridge’s artistic alter ego, bathing in his own anxiety. Kentridge’s fourth film, Sobriety, Obesity, & Growing Old (1991), further explores the troubled love story introduced in his debut film. Eckstein is faced by both financial and personal ruin. Premièred at the 1991 Cape Town Triennial, the artist was awarded the coveted gold medal for his film. Drawing for Sobriety, Obesity, and Growing Old (estimate R2.8 – R3.4 million), one of 25 drawings progressively altered by the artist for his film, dramatises a pivotal moment. It depicts Mrs Eckstein embracing her young paramour, choosing an open landscape of possibility.
Strauss & Co is also delighted to be offering Middle-Aged Love (R600 000 – R800 000), an offset lithograph on Korean Kozo paper from 2002. The print was made during an artist residency at the School of the Arts at Columbia University, New York. The large print (number 5/18) was based on life-size charcoal and turpentine drawings of dancing couples displayed in Kentridge’s studio during his residency. The work was printed by The Leroy Neiman Center for Print Studies at Columbia University. Kentridge is well known for his long-standing interest in printmaking. Strauss & Co is also offering Universal Archive (Big Tree), a 2012 linocut printed on 15 pages from Encyclopaedia Britannica at David Krut Workshop in Johannesburg (estimate R300 000 – R500 000). In the past year, Strauss & Co has successfully handled a number of important Kentridge drawings. In June, two early pastel and charcoal drawings, Study towards Responsible Hedonism (1988) and Dancing Couple, fetched R3 978 800 and R4 092 480 respectively. At the same sale, two little known drawings from Kentridge’s 1994 music video for pop ensemble Mango Groove elicited a great deal of interest. Released in 1993, Mango Groove’s ballad Another Country was described by Billboard magazine as “one of the most beautiful songs to emerge from the transition to democracy”. The two untitled drawings from the music video fetched R2 159 920 each.