6th Mar, 2024 18:00

20th Century & Contemporary Art

Lot 50
Lot 50 - William Kentridge (South Africa 1955-)


William Kentridge (South Africa 1955-)
A puppet, inspired by Confessions of Zeno

acrylic paint on wood, perspex assemblage

Artwork date: circa 2002
Location: Cape Town

Sold for R285,938
Estimated at R120,000 - R160,000


acrylic paint on wood, perspex assemblage

Artwork date: circa 2002
Location: Cape Town


59 x 12 x 21 cm excluding base; 61 x 12 x 21 cm including base


Private collection, Cape Town.


This work was inspired by Confessions of Zeno, an opera for singers, actors and puppets.

Premiering on 14 May 2002 at the Kaaitheater in Brussels as part of the Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Confessions of Zeno explored the worlds of work and of erotic pleasure that sustained the life of the modern European bourgeoisie in the years before the outbreak of World War I. The central character (Zeno) recalled the great moments of indecision and irresolution that marked his life, and that set in place his unresolved relationships with his father, and his wife and his mistress. Employing a gently mocking voice of self-irony, the work was a eulogy to a generation coming to terms with the limits of self-knowledge.[1]

The play was a collaboration between William Kentridge, Handspring Puppet Company, composer Kevin Volans and writer Jane Taylor. Kentridge designed and directed the production and puppets were made jointly by Kentridge and Artistic Director of Handspring Puppet Company, Adrian Kohler and were manipulated by Handspring Puppet Company.

This particular puppet was gifted by Kentridge to Jane Taylor who wrote the libretto for the opera.

[1] ‘Our Work’, Handspring Puppet Company. [online]. Available: https://www.handspringpuppet.com/handspring-puppet-company-productions


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; George Eastman Museum, New York; Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu; Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA), Michigan; The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago; Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town; University of Cape Town and the Zietz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa; Cape Town.

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