4th Mar, 2021 19:00

Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 16
Lot 16 - William Kentridge (South Africa 1955-)


± William Kentridge (South Africa 1955-)
Dutch Iris II

colour etching with aquatint

Signature details: signed and numbered Proof 4/5 in pencil along the bottom margin

Sold for R644,875
Estimated at R500,000 - R800,000


colour etching with aquatint

Signature details: signed and numbered Proof 4/5 in pencil along the bottom margin


sheet size: 118 x 81 cm; Framed size: 137 x 96.5 x 6.5 cm


William Kentridge’s expressive Dutch Iris prints are highly sought-after. Exceeding the limitations of printmaking, they capture painterly effects exquisitely. No longer is intaglio printing a means of replication, but the artist’s mastery of the medium is said to achieve such heights and flexibility that it rivals painting. Expanded to a scale larger than life, the beauty of Kentridge’s Dutch Iris series was envisioned by the artist as a four plate print series and was published by David Krut as one of his earliest publications with the artist in the early 1990s. The iris prints allowed Kentridge to experiment with a range of media and techniques, such as aquatint, etching, printed acrylic plates and many colour trials. The flexibility to proof many variations of the image without destroying the matrix, granted the prints the same dynamic qualities of his iconic, animated drawings, which undergo numerous stages of erasure and change. Describing the allure of these iris prints, Rosemary Simmons, the editor of Printmaking Today, stated that ‘You may start with a charcoal drawing of an iris flower but at some stage the copper and acid or the acrylic sheet and the engraving tools impose their own scenario much as characters in a play or film. I think it is what William Kentridge welcomes and allows.’1

Marc Smith


Simmons, R. 1993. Romancing the Plate. Printmaking Today. Volume 2, Number 4, Winter 1993, by Rosemary Simmons, (ed). Available at: https://davidkrutprojects.com/46365/william-kentridge-printmaking-at-jack-shirreff-1993. Accessed 1 February 2021.

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Auction: Modern & Contemporary Art, 4th Mar, 2021

Aspire Art Auctions’ Cape Town sale proved that the market for African and international art continues to thrive despite the pandemic.

The top lot by value was Irma Stern’s Dahlias and fruit, one of the most outstanding paintings from her late period, which achieved an impressive R5,234,800. Marlene Dumas scored a sensational hit when her early painting, Score, sold for R3,414,000, and stellar results were also achieved for celebrated artists; William Kentridge, George Pemba, Gerard Sekoto and Peter Clarke, amongst others, with world records at auction set for contemporary artists Turiya Magadlela and Gerhard Marx.

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