30th Nov, 2021 18:00

Modern & Contemporary Art | Johannesburg

Lot 7


William Kentridge (South Africa 1955-)
Ubu Tells the Truth, eight

hard ground, soft ground, aquatint, drypoint and engraving on Fabriano Rosapina Bianco 220 gsm paper

Artwork date: 1996/7
Signature details: each signed and numbered 10/50 in pencil in the margin

Sold for R260,000
Estimated at R250,000 - R400,000


hard ground, soft ground, aquatint, drypoint and engraving on Fabriano Rosapina Bianco 220 gsm paper

Artwork date: 1996/7
Signature details: each signed and numbered 10/50 in pencil in the margin


image size: 24.5 x 29.5 cm each; framed size: 53.5 x 57 x 2.5 cm each


Handspring Puppet Company.

Acquired directly from the artist.


Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, Why Should I Hesitate: Putting Drawings to Work, 25 August 2019 to 23 March 2020, examples of the same edition exhibited.; National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, Insights, February 27 to November 28, 2004, Artist Proofs exhibited.; National Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, Recent Acquisitions and Promised Gifts, 18 October 2002 to 5 January 2003, Artist Proofs exhibited.; South African National Gallery, Cape Town, William Kentridge, 7 December 2002 to 23 March 2003, examples of the same edition exhibited.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, William Kentridge, 21 July to 6 October 2002, examples of the same edition exhibited.; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, William Kentridge, 1 March to 5 May 2002, examples of the same edition exhibited.; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, William Kentridge, 20 October 2001 to 20 January 2002, examples of the same edition exhibited.; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, William Kentridge, 3 June to 16 September 2001, examples of the same edition exhibited.; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, William Kentridge, 28 February to 13 May 2001.


Christian, S. & McIlleron, A. (eds). (2019). Why Should I Hesitate: Putting Drawings to Work. Cape Town: Zeitz MOCAA, examples of a different edition illustrated in colour on pp.236-239.; Tone, L. (ed.). (2013). William Kentridge: Fortuna. London: Thames & Hudson, the complete suite of the same edition illustrated in colour on pp.242-243.; Sittenfeld, M. (ed.). (2001). William Kentridge. Chicago: Museum of Contemporary Art & New York: New Museum of Contemporary Art in association with Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Publishers, examples of the same edition illustrated in colour on pp.116-117.; Cameron, D., Christov-Bakargiev, C. & Coetzee, JM. (1999). William Kentridge. London: Phaidon Press Limited, examples of the same edition illustrated in colour on p.32.; Kentridge, W. (1997). Ubu: +/- 101: William Kentridge, Robert Hodgins, Deborah Bell. Braamfontein: French Institute of South Africa, Act IV Scene 7 illustrated on the front cover, the complete suite is illustrated in colour and black and white on pp.11, 14, 16, 17, 18 and 23.


This highly skilled suite of eight etchings was created as a part of an unprecedented series of interconnected works William Kentridge produced in the late 1990s, based on French dramatist Alfred Jarry’s infamous character, Ubu Roi. Kentridge conceptualised a number of visual narratives based on Ubu in a South African context, which included etchings, animated films, a series of larger drawings, a multimedia installation work and a theatre production by the Handspring Puppet Company.

The play Ubu Roi was written by Jarry in 1888. It was a satirical expression of the way in which arbitrary power can engender madness. Ubu was portrayed as “a ridiculous but devastating despot, who was also a licentious libertine, an emblem of the clumsy and brutal deeds done in the service of a calculating state”.

The character inspired numerous artists and writers and the approach lead to the development of a new genre – the Theatre of the Absurd [1].

In South Africa, Kentridge’s Ubu can be viewed as a powerful metaphor for the insane policy of Apartheid, presented by the state as a rational system.

Sarah Sinisi

[1] [Online] William Kentridge’s Ubu Projects, written by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, 1998 [Available at https://www.kentridge.studio/william-kentridges-ubu-projects/]

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Auction: Modern & Contemporary Art | Johannesburg, 30th Nov, 2021


A focused collection of top historical, modern and contemporary artworks, this boutique-style sale presents impressive examples of South Africa’s best-known artists at auction. Included is a wonderful oil on canvas still-life by Irma Stern painted in 1936, an exquisite equestrian painting by Tretchikoff, 4 early watercolours by George Pemba, a monumental Villa from 1976 and 6 superb lots by William Kentridge. Also on offer are impressive contemporary works by Kate Gottgens, Phillemon Hlungwani, Wim Botha and Banele Khoza, amongst others.


Viewing will be open from Wednesday 24 to Tuesday 30 November from 9 am to 5 pm.

Address: 32 Bolton Road, Parkwood, Johannesburg, 2193

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