Zeitz MOCAA Benefit Auction

Live Virtual Auction, 11 February 2024

Zeitz MOCAA 2024 Gala Benefit Auction

Sold for

ZAR 550 000
Lot 4
  • William Kentridge; Portraits for Shostakovich Symphony No.10 in E Minor, Opus 93 (II)

Lot Estimate
ZAR 500 000 - 700 000
Selling Price
ZAR 550 000

About this Item

South African 1955-
Portraits for Shostakovich Symphony No.10 in E Minor, Opus 93 (II)

signed, numbered 8/20 , inscribed with the title in pencil and embossed with The Artist's Press chopmark in the margin

lithograph on Zerkell BFK Rives 270gsm on 100% cotton cloth
164 by 111cm excluding frame; 176 by 122,5 by 5,5cm including frame


Donated by the artist.

With a career spanning more than 40 years, William Kentridge has been celebrated for decades for his prints, drawings, sculptures, films, and, more recently, theatre performances and installations at immense scale. The Johannesburg-based artist holds an honorary doctorate from Vrije Universiteit Brussels and has been recognized in two recently monumental surveys: In Praise of Shadows at the Broad Museum, Los Angeles (2023) and Why Should I Hesitate: Putting Drawings to Work and Sculpture at Zeitz MOCAA and the Norval Foundation respectively (2019). In 2023, his production The Head and the Load was performed for the first time in South Africa, after sold-out runs in London, New York, Duisburg, and Amsterdam.

This multicolour lithograph is Kentridge’s adaptation of Dmitri Shostakovich’s 10th symphony. Shostakovich was a Soviet-era Russian composer famous for his satirical and politically biting operas. His tenth symphony, regarded as one of the composer’s most expressive works, was debuted in 1953, directly after the death of the dictator Joseph Stalin and looks at the complex and tumultuous years of his dictatorship.

In 2022, Kentridge produced Oh To Believe in Another World, an immersive film projected across five screens, inspired by Shostakovich’s masterwork, and performed by the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra in Switzerland. Taking on the revolution’s shattered dreams that were ground down under authoritarian boot heels, the story is particular to Russian history but relevant in numerous contexts, not least in Africa. The film takes place in a seemingly abandoned Soviet museum that is really made of cardboard and located on a table in an artist’s studio, blurring the line between history and fiction, between reality and imagination. This space hosts an absurd cast of characters whose nine portraits make up this print. The figures are collaged, Kentridge cut up photographs and reassembled them in his idiosyncratic, uncanny style. Passages of text overlaid with bold primary colours, and images of urban architecture and advertising are used to create an assemblage of faces that are right at home in the surreal world of the opera and film and speak to the complex unknowability of politicians and artists alike.

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