William Joseph Kentridge (South African, born 1955) 'Domesticate the World'
Lot 113* W
William Joseph Kentridge (South African, born 1955) 'Domesticate the World'
£70,000 - 90,000
US$ 120,000 - 150,000
Auction Details
Lot Details
William Joseph Kentridge (South African, born 1955)
'Domesticate the World'
signed and dated 'KENTRIDGE 89' (lower right); bears Natalie Knight gallery label and bears the inscription 'WILLIAM KENTRIDGE / DOMESTICATE THE WORLD' (verso)
oil and mixed media on board
134 x 83.5cm (52 3/4 x 32 7/8in).


  • William Kentridge has spent much of his career investigating numerous themes, particularly those firmly rooted in the history of political art. Kentridge's works are consumed by these notions and the richness inherent in his subject matter is a testament to his deep cogitation of historic events and lineage of political art in South Africa.

    Domesticate the World is an overt visual investigation of politics, exploitation and identity. The central white figure is mostly naked and exposed and immediately dispatches a sense of unease. This unattractive character is mingled into the composition with subtle references from the established canon of portraiture in high European art. Kentridge gives shape to this figure through the expressive layers of his brushwork and the variety of mediums in the artwork. The stark backdrop accommodates the gesticulating figure, showing movement on a flat surface. The composition hangs as a gloomy interlude reminiscent of crumbling draconian regime and its ill and severe effects it has imposed on South African society.

    Kentridge's principal subject in the late 1970s and early 1980s was the domestic arena, the chief place of contact between whites and blacks. The plethora of artworks created during this period, in a variety of mediums, chronicled the mighty atrocities of apartheid. However, towards the end of 1989 and post-1989, Kentridge slightly shifts his focus from the concerns and protest of the apartheid regime to probing into the racial, communal, political and social identity and difference. In an interview with Mark Rosenthal, curator of modern art at Norton, the artist concludes: "I am trying to recapture moral terrain in which there aren't really any heroes but there are victims. A world where compassion just isn't enough."

    M. Rosenthal, William Kentridge: A Portrait of the artist, (San Francisco, 2007), pp.36, 45
  1. Hannah O'Leary
    Specialist - South African Art
    101 New Bond Street
    London, W1S 1SR
    United Kingdom
    Work +44 207 468 8213
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 5839
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