William Joseph Kentridge (South African, born 1955) 'Arc/Procession 9'
Lot 204
William Joseph Kentridge (South African, born 1955) 'Arc/Procession 9'
Sold for £31,250 (US$ 52,494) inc. premium
Lot Details
William Joseph Kentridge (South African, born 1955)
'Arc/Procession 9'
signed and dated 'Kentridge '89' (centre right) and inscribed 'Arc/Procession 9 / Sept 25 1989' (upper right), bears studio stamp 'W.J.Kentridge / 21 Liddel Street' (upper right)
charcoal and chalk
51 x 72cm (20 1/16 x 28 3/8in).


    Acquired at Cassirer Fine Art and Gallery on the Market, Johannesburg, William Kentridge: Drawings and Graphics, 1990
    A private collection

    The problem of depicting massed crowds has long been a productive avenue for formal innovation in Kentridge's work. One of the most successful outcomes has been the use of the processional arc: a transverse 'slice' or band of protestors spread out in a fan-like shape. As the eye cannot take in all the forms simultaneously, but must by necessity follow the curve, the image conjures a sense of thick time, of continuity, that the standard linear arrangement does not.

    The inspiration for arranging figures in an arc came from a circular, fifteenth-century drawing that Kentridge saw in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 1985: "I remember thinking that I could put people around that circle and I would have a form that could be used to show a lot of people moving and that would encapsulate time, without simply being a photograph of a crowd. A section of it then became the series of Arc/Procession drawings."

    Megaphones and miners, businessmen and buckets are the proponents of this decidedly unheroic cavalcade, many of them familiar from earlier drawings. The figure below the arc, with his truncated field of view, may suggest the position of the viewer, as the 1990 works which resulted from the experimental drawings of 1989 – Arc Procession (Develop, Catch Up, Even Surpass) (a monumental work in the collection of the Tate Modern) and Arc Procession (Smoke, Ashes, Fable) – are "executed on an architectural scale and are installed above eye level, like the carved relief friezes on triumphal arches".

    The same character appears in a very similar Arc/Procession drawing from 1989 in the collection of the British Museum. The studio stamp on the drawing refers to the artist's home in the 1980s in the inner-city Johannesburg suburb of Bertrams. The run-down suburb's characters and cast-offs make their appearance in several of Kentridge's works.

    K. McCrickard, William Kentridge, (London, 2012), p.30
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