Art 21’s 100th Exclusive Video: William Kentridge

Episode #100! With his video History of the Main Complaint (1996) serving as a backdrop, William Kentridge discusses how artists draw upon tragedy as subject matter for their work and how drawing itself can be a compassionate act.

Having witnessed first-hand one of the twentieth century’s most contentious struggles—the dissolution of apartheid—William Kentridge brings the ambiguity and subtlety of personal experience to public subjects most often framed in narrowly defined terms. Using film, drawing, sculpture, animation, and performance, he transmutes sobering political events into powerful poetic allegories. Aware of myriad ways in which we construct the world by looking, Kentridge often uses optical illusions to extend his drawings-in-time into three dimensions.

The traveling exhibition William Kentridge: Five Themes is currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (through May 17, 2010).

William Kentridge is featured in the Season 5 (2009) episode Compassion of the Art:21—Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS

Eli Consilvio