William Kentridge

Five Themes

William Kentridge

William Kentridge, Drawing for II Sole 24 Ore (World Walking), 2007; Charcoal, gouache, pastel, and colored pencil on paper; Collection of Doris and Donald Fisher; © 2008 William Kentridge; photo: courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York

William Kentridge

William Kentridge, Invisible Mending (still), from 7 Fragments for Georges Méliès, Journey to the Moon, and Day for Night, 2003; Collection of the artist; © 2008 William Kentridge; photo: John Hodgkiss, courtesy the William Kentridge Studio

William Kentridge

William Kentridge, Untitled [Artist and Model Drawing], 2001; Gouache, dry pigment, charcoal, and pastel on paper; Collection of Heidi L. Steiger; © 2008 William Kentridge; photo: John Hodgkiss, courtesy the William Kentridge Studio

William Kentridge

William Kentridge, A Lifetime of Enthusiasm (still), from the installation I am not me, the horse is not mine, 2008; Eight-channel video projection; Collection of the artist; © 2008 William Kentridge; photo: John Hodgkiss, courtesy the William Kentridge Studio

William Kentridge

William Kentridge, Drawing for the film Stereoscope, 1998–99; Charcoal, pastel, and colored pencil on paper; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; © 2008 William Kentridge; photo: courtesy the William Kentridge Studio and The Museum of Modern Art, New York

William Kentridge

William Kentridge, Act III, Scene 9, from the portfolio Ubu Tells the Truth, 1996; Hardground, softground, aquatint, drypoint, and engraving; Collection of the artist; © 2008 William Kentridge; photo: John Hodgkiss, courtesy the William Kentridge Studio; Printed by Caversham Press, Natal, South Africa

William Kentridge

William Kentridge, Bridge, 2001; Bronze and books; Collection of the artist; © 2008 William Kentridge; photo: John Hodgkiss, courtesy the William Kentridge Studio

March 14 - May 31, 2009

Combining the political with the poetic, William Kentridge's work has made an indelible mark on the contemporary art scene. Dealing with subjects as sobering as apartheid and colonialism, Kentridge often imbues his art with dreamy, lyrical undertones or comedic bits of self-deprecation, making his powerful messages both alluring and ambivalent. Perhaps best known for his stop-motion films of charcoal drawings, the internationally renowned South African artist also works in etching, collage, sculpture, and the performing arts, opera in particular. This exhibition explores five primary themes that have engaged Kentridge over the last three decades through a comprehensive selection of his work from the 1980s to the present. Concentrating on his most recent production and including many pieces that have not been seen in the United States, the exhibition reveals as never before the full arc of his distinguished career. Acknowledging the profound significance of the theater in Kentridge's work, SFMOMA will present his restaging of Monteverdi's opera The Return of Ulysses in conjunction with the exhibition.


William Kentridge: Five Themes is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Norton Museum of Art. Generous support for the exhibition is provided by the Koret Foundation. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Koret Foundation National Endowment for the Arts

The San Francisco presentation is made possible by generous support from Doris and Donald Fisher, the Mimi and Peter Haas Fund, and Nancy and Steven H. Oliver. Additional support is provided by the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation.