Sun, 2nd Jun 2019 9:00

Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 31
Lot 31 - William Kentridge, Untitled (Woman and Café)


William Kentridge, Untitled (Woman and Café)
charcoal and pastel on paper|signed and dated bottom left|1992

charcoal and pastel on paper

Sold for R3,186,400
Estimated at R2,800,000 - R3,800,000

Condition Report

The overall condition is good. The colour of the pastel is vibrant. The work is framed behind UV-protected glass. Not examined out of the frame, full condition report available on request.

Please note, we are not qualified conservators and these reports give our opinion as to the general condition of the works. We advise that bidders view the lots in person to satisfy themselves with the condition of prospective purchases.


charcoal and pastel on paper


75 x 105 cm


As William Kentridge’s brother, Matthew, attests in his absorbing recent monograph, ‘the Soho projects produced a scattering of drawings – extraordinary artworks in their own right – which do not make it into the final film’.[i] Untitled (Woman and Café) is one such extraordinary drawing. Produced in 1992, it follows directly after Kentridge’s first four films chronicling property developer and Randlord, Soho Eckstein’s exploits and exploitations. The fourth film, Sobriety, Obesity and Growing Old (1991), explores the competition between Soho and Felix Teitlebaum for the affections of Mrs Eckstein. While Felix indulges his obsession, Soho comes to realise that he has to forego his empire to win back the love of his life.In this delightful drawing of the object of both men’s desire, Kentridge depicts Mrs Eckstein dancing naked in the throes of sensual pleasure. Water, often used by the artist to express sexual desire and fulfilment, is indicated here in the startling blue and turquoise marks that streak along the beach.Colour, so rare in a Kentridge drawing, signals an important shift as Matthew Kentridge suggests. ‘The moments of transcendence occur when water begins to flow – the landscape stops being spiky and arid, and calcified beliefs and emotions soften and evolve into something which allows for ambiguity and doubt’.[ii] Given the year of its creation – 1992 with South Africa on the cusp of a bright new future – might we read into the refreshing blue water here something inspirational, perhaps a suggestion of hope?‘Drawing for me is about fluidity’ said Kentridge in an interview with Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev; ‘drawing is a testing of ideas; a slow-motion version of thought. …[T]he uncertain and imprecise way of constructing a drawing is sometimes a model of how to construct meaning’.The café to the right echoes the architectural lines of the Empire Theatre, designed by architect William Hood Grant and opened in 1941. Its elegant Art Deco façade is still visible today on the beachfront, a reminder of a bygone era in Muizenberg where the Kentridge family spent many a happy holiday.

Emma Bedford


[i] Kentridge, M. (2015) The Soho Chronicles: 10 Films by William KentridgeLondon New York Calcutta: Seagull Books. p. 77.

[ii] Kentridge, M. (2015) The Soho Chronicles: 10 Films by William KentridgeLondon New York Calcutta: Seagull Books. p. 41.

[iii] Interview: Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev in conversation with William Kentridge in Cameron, D., Christov-Bakargiev, C. and Coetzee, J. M. (1999) William Kentridge. New York: Phaidon Press Inc. p. 8.

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Auction: Modern & Contemporary Art, Sun, 2nd Jun 2019

Aspire Art Auctions presented a focused and insightfully compiled selection of top-quality modern and contemporary art in their latest sale in Johannesburg.

The company’s commitment to innovation led to a bold and signature move in this sale, which featured a special section dedicated to photography. The medium has been traditionally strong among South African artists but has been without a proper focus in the local auction market. The ground-breaking segment featured a wide range of the most important South African photographers, including Pieter Hugo, David Goldblatt, Guy Tillim, and Zanele Muholi. In addition, the sale starred a number of the market’s big signatures – Alexis Preller J.H. Pierneef, Gerard Sekoto, and Maggie Laubser and top contemporary artists including, Diane Victor, and Wim Botha.


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