Contemporary Art

Live Auction, 16 February 2019

Contemporary Auction
  • William Kentridge; Wittgenstein's Rhinoceros
  • William Kentridge; Wittgenstein's Rhinoceros
  • William Kentridge; Wittgenstein's Rhinoceros
  • William Kentridge; Wittgenstein's Rhinoceros
  • William Kentridge; Wittgenstein's Rhinoceros
  • William Kentridge; Wittgenstein's Rhinoceros


Lot Estimate
ZAR 300 000 - 500 000

About this Item

South African 1955-
Wittgenstein's Rhinoceros
2007

signed and numbered 27/35 in pencil in the margin

 

two colour lithograph and collage
image size: 135 by 112,5cm; sheet size: 160 by 122cm

Notes

‘The rhino was a symbol of power and kingship in Europe for centuries, most remarkably exemplified by Clara, a three-ton Indian rhinoceros brought to Europe in 1741, who toured the continent in a horsedriven carriage for seventeen years, becoming a favourite of Fredrick the Great and Louis XV and a popular motif on Meissen’s eighteenth-century porcelain dinner services. Clara was immortalised by Jean-Baptiste Oudray in 1749 in his life-sized oil portrait, and in Roberto Lhongi’s Exhibition of a Rhinoceros at Venice, 1751. Both were corrective images of Dürer’s fearsome beast, and dispelled the fallacy attributed to Pliny and Gesner among others, which claimed the rhinoceros as a formidable creature that fought with elephants and was descended from the unicorn. Kentridge’s prints recall Dürer – and also Burgkmair’s fantastical sixteenth-century armoured beasts – but transform him from a regal motif of power into a domesticated creature. This rhino is rather a symbol of a romantic, exploitative colonialist view of Africa (developed previously in an earlier animation film, Mine (1991), in which Soho Eckstein, the mine owner, digs up a whole social and ecological history out of the earth and receives a miniature rhino from the miners as he drinks his first cup of coffee).’1

  1. Kate McCrickard. (2007) I am the Bird Catcher, in Bronwyn Law-Viljoen (ed.), William Kentridge: Flute, Johannesburg: David Krut. Page 150.

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