William Kentridge’s Artist Statement and Animated Videos

This post is for all of you who are interested in storytelling. These unique personal stories dreamed and drawn and erased and re-drawn for animation are amazing. Kentridge’s stories are certainly multimedia pieces. There are many other examples on You Tube. Google William Kentridge. I am very interested in hearing what you think.

History of the Main Complaint (1996)

For a synopsis of the film click here.


Weighing… And Wanting (1997)


Artist’s statement:


“I am interested in a political art, that is to say an art of ambiguity, contradiction, uncompleted gestures and uncertain ending – an art (and a politics) in which optimism is kept in check, and nihilism at bay.”

On living a lifetime in Johannesburg: “I have never been able to escape Johannesburg, and in the end, all my work is rooted in this rather desperate provincial city. I have never tried to make illustrations of apartheid, but the drawings and the films are certainly spawned by, and feed off, the brutalised society left in its wake.”

On his drawings: “The drawings don’t start with ‘a beautiful mark’. It has to be a mark of something out there in the world. It doesn’t have to be an accurate drawing, but it has to stand for an observation, not something that is abstract, like an emotion.”

Quotations from William Kentridge by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (1998), Societé des Expositions du Palais de Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles.

5 Comments on William Kentridge’s Artist Statement and Animated Videos

  1. I also discovered William Kentridge recently. I spent my 52nd birthday at the SF MOMA and never got past the Kentridge exhibit. A gigantic multi-room series so original, powerful and stunning that I had to sit in the cafe before I could go on. Dark and emotionally flowing drawings, paintings and sculptures. Animated film after film after film. Almost all self portraits with a message, often political. Capitol “P” prolific. He’s an original, multi-faceted and inspiring- free-flowing draftsman. His animations are clearly born from his drawings and blended with a facination with movement much the same way a flip book would intrigue. Political and powerful but with whimsy too. An amazing simplicity and urgency in the animations. Just when I was exhausted and thought I was unable to view the last room, I found that last display room of his animated mechanical theatrical opera stage sets amazing like nothing I’d ever seen before. Drawings came to life via animated drawings and collages on a kind of surrealist’s industrial stage with mechanical robots dancing. Yes dancing!

  2. Beryl Desmond // June 9, 2010 at 2:34 am //

    As a BA Fine Art degree student I have found this site very interesting and will return to it.

  3. Thanks Beryl,

    Where are you studying? Please pass the site onto fellow fine art students. Your comments are welcome here. Where may I see some of your art? I have a separate site which displays my work at http://www/iansummersartwork.

  4. Beryl Desmond // June 10, 2010 at 3:08 am //

    Hi I am finishing my second year at Bathspa school of art and have begun my research for my final dissertation that is concerned with contemporary drawing and whether it has finally achieved autonomy. I will be questioning whether drawing has finally left behind its role as merely a preparatory process and am looking for evidence that it is now enjoying a new status as the product ie the noun rather than the verb. I am fascinated by the way that Kentrigde has stayed loyal to his drawing practice and combined it with film -making and has suceeded in raising both to a new level of art. I would be interested to hear of other contemporary artists who consider drawing as a product in its own right.

  5. http://www.sketchtheatre.com/?p=2154

    Many years ago, I conceived, wrote and designed a half dozen books about science fiction and fantasy art including Tomorrow and Beyond, Barlowe’s Guide to Extrterrestrials, and The Art of the Brothers Hildebrandt. This link brought me back to the days when were redefining science fiction and fantasy illustration. Star Wars. Star Trek. And then I came across this link which includes an interview with Wayne Barlowe, a former collaborator. I am no longer particularly interested in this genre of illustration, but thought you might like to see some of the videos and interviews on Sketch Theatre. The artists do not necessarily see drawing as a noun. These are films that document the techniques leading to paintings.

    I still love to look at sketchbooks as they often reveal process and do not get caught up in the tightness of final rendering. Barlowe has included sketches in most of his books including the one we did together.

    Kentridge’s devotion to drawing and film making trumps most artists’ dedication and expression to drawing as an end product. His process seems to be spontaneous. His mistakes are as interesting as his deliberation. He is a true multimedia sensation. Please let me know how your dissertation develops.

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