October 1, 2019

Prints by Kentridge

        William Kentridge (South Africa, b. 1955) is one of South Africa’s biggest-name artists, famous for prints, drawings, and animated films.  His prints, however, are not generally relief prints, and thus I do not generally take much interest in his work!  I do have a few interesting things for you today, however.  First are two prints that are drypoint etchings, not relief prints.  The image is carved (or scratched) into the surface, but the ink is pushed down into those scratches,  wiped away from the raised areas, and then printed.  So, unlike a relief print, the lines that are carved print in black (ink) rather than white (no ink).  I find these interesting, though, because of the printing plates: old vinyl records.  This just goes to show once again that anything that can be carved can be printed.  I even snagged a couple of old records at the reuse-it shed at our town dump to experiment with what they might look like printed in relief, but I haven’t actually tried anything yet.  [Here is the piece I finally did.]  As for Kentridge’s prints, the cat is rather fun, and there does seem to be some sort of logical connection between a cat, scratching, a record, and making noise!  One other interesting note about these is that the record labels have printed with a sort of lithography effect, in which the ink clearly stuck to the paper of the label more than to the printed words on the label.
        While I’m at it, I will also offer you two linoleum block prints by Kentridge.  These are large scale, 7 and 8 feet tall, and must come across as quite monumental, although I have not seen them in person myself.  The man/tree is clearly uprooted, but I can’t tell you why the woman is a telephone!  They have a sort of fantasy transformation vibe, and I’m sorry to confess that I find them whimsical, although given Kentridge’s own statements about his work, they are undoubtedly intended to be about themes of loss, conflict, and oppression, and almost certainly not “whimsical”.  I like the contrast of the very bold, simple silhouettes against distant textured backgrounds.  As I mentioned, lino is an uncommon medium for Kentridge, but he clearly can use it to strong effect when he wants to!

[Pictures: Living Language (Cat), and Living Language (Panic Picnic), drypoints by William Kentridge, 1999 (photo by AEGN at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College);
Telephone Lady, linocut by Kentridge, 2000 (Image from David Krut Projects);
Walking Man, linocut by Kentridge, 2000 (Image from Art Gallery NSW).]


Kristin said...

Interesting idea - to print records. I may try that one day. I received the magnets today, they are beautiful! In addition to doing family history research, I also used to be a printmaker. In fact, that was my major in college. When we first moved to Atlanta, I started again but I got sucked into the research vortex and that is pretty much how all my time goes now. I do have a small press and if I can find any of those 78s my mother left that I had in a box somewhere, I am going to print one.


Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Kristin, I would love to see some of your prints some day! I'm sure you know all sorts of stuff I don't, since I'm mostly self-taught. You should post some of your work someday. (I know, it's not really on the topic of your blog, but just for a bonus?)
I'm glad the magnets arrived safely. =)

Pax said...

We heard Kentridge's father give the commencement speech at Haverford College in 1990. He was a South African jurist, a very impressive guy.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

That's interesting, Pax. And I'm sure coming from that background has had a huge impact on the younger Kentridge's artwork.