William Joseph Kentridge (South African, born 1955)
'Nose II' signed and inscribed 'WK 12/20' (base) bronze 32 x 22cm (12 5/8 x 8 11/16in).
Noses have always played an important role in literature, from Pinocchio to Cyrano de Bergerac. However, arguably the greatest nose story of them all is Nikolai Gogol's short story The Nose, published in Russia in 1836. Deemed as one of the greatest stories of the 19th Century, The Nose has intrigued generations of dissertation writers, art and literary critics, Freudian psychologists and, more recently, the South African artist William Kentridge. In 2010, he was invited to stage a production of Shostakovich's farcical opera based on Gogol's short story for the Metropolitan in New York.
In this odd yet haunting tale, a vain civil servant wakes up one morning to discover that his olfactory organ has disappeared from his face. The protagonist attempts to track it down but when he does find his nose (in a cathedral), he realises that his nose is of a higher rank than he is. To his dismay his own nose will not speak to him and even when it is arrested for trying to leave the city in disguise, it still will not rejoin his face. But one morning he awakes and finally the nose has returned.
A similar work, Nose (II) Walking, was featured in Kentridge's exhibition Streets of the City, at the Museo di Capodimonte, Napoli, in 2010, along with 3 other bronze sculptures associated with the same theme of the errant nose.
BIBLIOGRAPHY W. Kentridge, Streets of the City, William Kentridge, (Napoli, 2010), pp.101, 102