Auction Highlight: Kentridge

Auction Highlight: Kentridge

Landscape with Billboard, an Expressive Landscape Drawing by William Kentridge

03/08/2022     General News, Live Auctions, Announcements

William Kentridge, Landscape with Billboard | Estimate: ZAR 1 500 000 – 2 000 000


Aspire Art’s upcoming live auction 20th Century & Contemporary Art will take place in Cape Town on Wednesday, 14 September 2022. Excitement is building for this much-anticipated sale which will feature a select collection of works by some of South Africa’s most influential modern masters and renowned contemporary artists from Southern Africa practicing in the international art arena today.
Following a string of impressive results achieved for the sale of William Kentridge’s work at auction over the past years and the R3,186,400 sale of Drawing for Mine (1991) in March 2022, Aspire Art is pleased to announce the consignment of a captivating expressive landscape drawing by the world-renowned artist.

The work features another depiction of the infamous ‘bill-board’ image, a  notable recurring ‘Kentridge motive’ as seen in many of his drawings and films – like in the opening scene of the animation film Johannesburg, Second Greatest City after Paris (1989) and also in Other Faces (2011). This motive is not only a literal reference to the industrial structures of the Johannesburg landscape but uniquely used by the artist as a conceptual and symbolical metaphor.


Film stills from Johannesburg, Second Greatest City after Paris, 1989


Film stills from Other Faces, 2022


Of his landscape drawings from the mid-1980s, Kentridge states: “I started calling myself an artist in my thirties when I discovered not just the necessity but the pleasure of drawing the landscape just to the south of Johannesburg. And also when I discovered the pleasure of a soft chamois leather dipped into charcoal dust and wiped across the white surface of the paper, leaving not just a train of dark charcoal grit on the paper but also of a darkening sky above a light horizon.
The landscape met the drawing halfway. The blinding contrast of the winter light, all white paper or dark shadow, drained of colour. The dried grass had the blackness of charcoal; the lines of abandoned civil engineering projects were ready for rulers and a steady hand. This was in the mid-1980s, when the land around Johannesburg was becoming a post-industrial wilderness. The gold had been exhausted, mines were closed down, huge elements of cast-iron and steel were abandoned in the veld. Roads were eaten away from their verges. But still these elements demanded the picturesque, as if the culvert were a river, the storm water drain a stone bridge, the poles of the wire fences another avenue of trees. I had to find a strategy to avoid this, to find a lack of structure or order in the terrain, to get the great landscape paintings out of my head.”
Offered at an estimate of R1,500,000 – 2,000,000, this important work headlines the superb contemporary collection on offer.

To date, Aspire remains the top South African seller of works by William Kentridge on the secondary market and currently holds the top two auction records in South Africa.
William Kentridge has recently been awarded The Queen Sonja Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented by Her Majesty Queen Sonja at the Award Ceremony at the new Munch Museum in Oslo on 20 June 2022. He joins past winners of the Award; David Hockney (2018) and Paula Rego (2020).