The Oliver Powell and Timely Investments Trust Collection

Live Virtual Auction, 20 September 2022

The Oliver Powell and Timely Investments Trust Collection
About the Session

Strauss & Co is pleased to present this extraordinary collection as the featured session this September Live Virtual Auction. An established insolvency practitioner with a passion for the arts, Oliver Powell's principal focus has been collecting South African painting, sculpture and works on paper made since 1950. Colour, graphic ingenuity and emotional weight are all attributes in an artwork that Powell is drawn to. Powell also emphasises the importance of his many encounters with artists. “There is so much value in meeting an artist,” says Powell. “Aspects and details of their life are reflected in what and how they paint.”


Sold for

ZAR 455 200
Lot 110
  • William Kentridge; Art in a State of Siege (100 Years of Easy Living)
  • William Kentridge; Art in a State of Siege (100 Years of Easy Living)
  • William Kentridge; Art in a State of Siege (100 Years of Easy Living)


Lot Estimate
ZAR 400 000 - 600 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 455 200

About this Item

South African 1955-
Art in a State of Siege (100 Years of Easy Living)

signed, dated '88 and numbered 12/13 in pencil in the margin

screenprint on brown paper
157,5 by 98cm excluding frame; 170 by 110,5 by 20cm including frame

Notes

This screenprint is part of a triptych that originated out of a clandestine poster project in 1986 that, although unrealised, was intended to coincide with celebrations marking the centenary of Johannesburg.1 William Kentridge was asked to join a group of people working against the centenary, this at a time of widespread social unrest and state repression. For his contribution, Kentridge created a drawing titled Johannesburg 100 Years of Easy Living: What Cause to Celebrate? Although abandoned, the drawing informed his composition Art in a State of Siege, which features an early precursor of his corpulent Johannesburg industrialist Soho Eckstein. Indeed, all three Neo-Expressionist compositions feature motifs typical of Kentridge’s practice of the period (aristocratic suburbanites, industrial landscapes, megaphones, Constructivist pavilions). The titles of the individual works chart three distinctive artistic positions: that of Grace, Hope and Siege. Grace, elaborated Kentridge in a lecture in Grahamstown in 1986, was a romantic or lyrical vision of art removed form society, which he regarded as personally “inadmissible”.2 By contrast, Hope represented an activist conception of art, which his links in his composition to the impossible idealism of Vladimir Tatlin’s unfulfilled Monument to the Third International (1919–20). Siege represented a synthesis of the former two poles: in this latter mode art is “neither submerged by a programme outside itself,” nor does it see itself as separate from society, but rather hopes to work with “open-ended questions and arrive at meaning through the activity of making the work”.3 This proposition still fairly reflects how Kentridge works. Printed on brown paper by Malcolm Christian at the Caversham Press and bonded onto crème-coloured Vélin d'Arches paper, MoMA print curator Judith B Hecker has characterised this triptych as a seminal work.4

1 Bronwyn Law-Viljoen (ed) (2006) William Kentridge Prints, Johannesburg: David Krut Publishing. Another print from the same edition illustrated on page 34.

2Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (1998) William Kentridge, Brussels: Société des Expositions du Palais des Beaux-Arts. Another print from the same edition illustrated on page 55.

3Law-Viljoen, op.cit., page 34.

4Judith B Hecker (2010) William Kentridge: Trace: Prints from the Museum of Modern Art, New York: Museum of Modern Art, page 58.

Provenance

Strauss & Co, Johannesburg, 11 November 2013, lot 247.

The Oliver Powell and Timely Investments Trust Collection.

Exhibited

Wits Art Museum, William Kentridge artworks from the WAM collections, 21 June to 13 August 2022, another print from the edition that forms part of the Wits Art Museum permanent collection was on display.

Literature

Dan Cameron, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and JM Coetzee (1999) William Kentridge, London: Phaidon, another print from the edition illustrated on page 108.

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2001) William Kentridge, Chicago and New York: Museum of Contemporary Art and New Museum of Contemporary Art, another print from the edition illustrated on pages 78 and 79.

Bronwyn Law Viljoen (ed) (2006) William Kentridge Prints, David Krut: Johannesburg, another print from the edition illustrated on pages 34 and 35.

Mark Rosenthal (2009) William Kentridge: Five Themes, San Francisco and New Haven: San Francisco Museum of Art and Yale University Press, another print from the edition illustrated on page 38.

Judith B Hecker (2010) William Kentridge: Trace: Prints from the Museum of Modern Art, New York: Museum of Modern Art, another print from the edition illustrated on page 58.

View all William Kentridge lots for sale in this auction



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