William Kentridge: Five Themes

Feb 24–May 17, 2010


William Kentridge. Drawing from Stereoscope. 1998–99. Charcoal, pastel, and colored pencil on paper, 47 1/4 × 63″ (120 × 160 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art, with special contributions from Anonymous, Scott J. Lorinsky, Yasufumi Nakamura, and The Wider Foundation
  • MoMA, Floor 2, Contemporary Galleries Contemporary Galleries

This large-scale exhibition surveys nearly three decades of work by William Kentridge (b. 1955, South Africa), a remarkably versatile artist whose work combines the political with the poetic. Dealing with subjects as sobering as apartheid, colonialism, and totalitarianism, his work is often imbued with dreamy, lyrical undertones or comedic bits of self-deprecation that render his powerful messages both alluring and ambivalent. Best known for animated films based on charcoal drawings, he also works in prints, books, collage, sculpture, and the performing arts. This exhibition explores five primary themes in Kentridge’s art from the 1980s to the present, and underscores the inter­relatedness of his mediums and disciplines, particularly through a selection of works from the Museum’s collection. Included are works related to the artist’s staging and design of Dmitri Shostakovich’s The Nose, which premieres at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in March 2010.

Accompanied by the performance program Performance 8: William Kentridge

The exhibition was originally organized for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Norton Museum of Art by Mark Rosenthal. At The Museum of Modern Art the exhibition is organized by Klaus Biesenbach, Chief Curator at Large, MoMA, and Director, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center; Judith B. Hecker, Assistant Curator, Department of Prints and Illustrated Books; and Cara Starke, Assistant Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art.

The MoMA presentation is sponsored by BNY Mellon.

Major support is provided by the Mimi and Peter Haas Fund and by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III. Additional funding is provided by Jerry I. Speyer and Katherine G. Farley, Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis, Anna Marie and Robert F. Shapiro, and Marnie S. Pillsbury.

Generous support for the development of the exhibition was provided by the Koret Foundation with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.


  • William Kentridge: Trace. Prints from The Museum of Modern Art Exhibition catalogue, Hardcover, 112 pages
  • Press release 6 pages


Installation images

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