30th Nov, 2022 18:00

20th Century & Contemporary Art

Lot 17
Lot 17 - William Kentridge (South Africa 1955-)


William Kentridge (South Africa 1955-)
Self portrait in collage: Head VII

drawing, lithography, letterpress, scanned book pages, hand colouring and chine collé

Artwork date: 2008
Signature details: signed and dated bottom left
Edition: unique

Sold for R369,850
Estimated at R450,000 - R650,000


drawing, lithography, letterpress, scanned book pages, hand colouring and chine collé

Artwork date: 2008
Signature details: signed and dated bottom left
Edition: unique


head: 43.5 x 17.5 x 15 cm; box: 47 x 37 x 41 cm; including base: 156 x 41 x 37 cm


Private collection, Cape Town.

Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.


Accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by Neil Dundas and William Kentridge.

The self-portrait, is an existential and intimate reflection which began our understanding of the oeuvre of William Kentridge in the early stop frame animations of Felix Teitelbaum and Soho Eckstein (1989 to 2011). In this work Self-Portrait in collage: Head VII (2008), the head of the artist is constructed from a two-dimensional drawing of two portraits slotted into each other in which the two flat surfaces take on a three-dimensionality and transform into a provisional bust.

The bust, experienced in the round, has visual references to the globe or the orb and the traces of text ‘The Incident is Closed’ and ‘Intolerable Trust’ further question the musings of this bust. Inspired from Kentridge’s earlier series Four Paper Heads (2007)[1], and the performance of Zeno Writing (2002) which is “based on Italo Svevo’s 1923 novel Confessions of Zeno, and contrasts the atmosphere of post-World War One Trieste with contemporary Johannesburg”.[2] We see the face deconstructed and reconstructed through the provisional line and the torn page, the memory and memorial reflected in the exposed features of a cheek, an eye or an ear. The artist is the accuser and the accused as he both observes the self and deconstructs the self in a questioning of the image of humanity as fragile, complex and provisional.

In a nod to Alberto Giacometti’s sculptures which stretch and augment a rough line and knobbly impressions into a figure, the provisional drawings of Kentridge become more than a line drawing and more than a bust. The image of the self points to contemporary dilemmas and historical legacies. This work is well placed within the expansive dialogue the artist has with drawing, history and theories of existentialism which emerge from these histories.

Tammy Langtry

[1] Taylor, J. (2018). William Kentridge: That Which We Do Not Remember with Jane Taylor. Sydney and Adelaide: Naomi Milgrom Foundation. p.52.

[2] William Kentridge. Zeno Writing (2002) Qagoma. https://learning.qagoma.qld.gov.au/artworks/zeno-writing/


The artist is represented in numerous local and international collections, notably, the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California and The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago.

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Auction: 20th Century & Contemporary Art, 30th Nov, 2022


The focused sale brings to market 84 highly collectable lots, with the diverse collection showcasing highlights by modern masters including magnificent still-life compositions and a Zanzibari boat scene by Irma Stern, an Alexis Preller abstract and an early JH Pierneef landscape. Also included is a significant collection of celebrated contemporary artists: Mustafa Maluka, David Koloane, Walter Oltmann, Norman Catherine, Willem Boshoff, a rare self-portrait oil by Robert Hodgins as well as a large bronze sculpture by Zanele Muholi, the first of this new body of work to be offered on auction.
The sale features a special selection of artworks by William Kentridge. One of the most celebrated and influential living artists today, his major retrospective exhibition is currently on show at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. This is one of the most unique and high-quality Kentridge collections to come to market. Spanning his career and showcasing the many mediums in which he works, the sale features signature charcoal drawings alongside collages, tapestry, prints and sculptures.

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