The Studio Life Series
Studio Life Series. The Phillip's Room
2020. Photogravure on Hahnemühle Natural White 300gsm
Edition Size. 18
Image size. 30 cm x 40cm (11 5/8" x 15 3/4")
Paper size. 44 cm x 54 cm (17 1/3" x 21 1/4")
Photo by Rachel Topham
The mythology surrounding the artist’s studio takes many forms: a physical reflection of the artist’s mind in the cases of Jackson Pollock or Francis Bacon, the communal revelry of Andy Warhol’s factory, the calm sanctuary of Donald Judd’s home studio.
No matter which you subscribe to there is great curiosity in knowing just what has been influencing the artists who so deeply move us. What books are on the desk? How do they organize their work, their day, their decision making process?
William Kentridge, like many of us, was forced to change his typically busy routine when COVID-19 quarantines limited movement and social interactions. For Kentridge, it was an opportunity to re-examine his own artistic practice and the very nature of the creative process.
Picking up where his 2020 animation City Deep left off, Kentridge has dedicated himself to making a series of ten films called Studio Life, four of which have been completed, focusing on the place of production, confinement and sanctuary for an artist: the studio.
Simultaneously, a series of photogravure images is being created in collaboration with David Krut Workshop. Each photogravure directly connects to a film, taking on different vantage points and building one another up.
At present, there will be six photogravure images drawn from the first four films, four of which are complete.
'Artistically, Kentridge tackles a creative challenge from multiple perspectives and processes with a variety of collaborators.
Drawings, prints, and sculptures spin out from and generate content for operas, films, and installations. True to form, the Studio Life films are being worked on simultaneously with a series of photogravure images.
Collaborating with longtime publisher David Krut and Master Printer Jillian Ross, photographs taken during film production are translated into large format prints that give us a glimpse into his studio life, a voyeuristic visit with the urgency and intimacy of a soliloquy.'
William Kentridge talks about his new film City Deep
Courtesy The Art Newspaper
'It is the reaching for answers to these fundamental questions that keeps Kentridge engaged as an artist and us as viewers.'
'Photogravure is an intaglio printmaking process or photo-mechanical process whereby a copper plate is grained (adding a pattern to the plate) and then coated with a light-sensitive gelatin tissue which had been exposed to a film positive, and then etched. This results in a high quality intaglio plate that can reproduce highly detailed continuous tones that can be found in a photograph.'1
As these choreographed and considered photographs by Kentridge are transformed through a manual, intaglio printing process, they illuminate elements of the 'Studio Life' films by peeking behind the curtain, revealing the inner workings, placing us in the studio with him, and in turn generate their own narratives and experiences in parallel.
This process merges the worlds of Kentridge’s drawings hanging on the wall with the objects on the table, and the cameras on the stands with the very studio itself, calling into question what is the real work, the experience of the object or, the object itself?
With the pandemic physically keeping Kentridge from the David Krut Workshop at Arts on Main, the selection of the photogravure process for the new series of prints was a natural one for Kentridge. It offered him the opportunity to produce a series of works parallel to his Studio Life films without leaving his own studio. Photogravure took the documentary photographs of the making of these films into another realm, and allowed him to look more deeply into his own practice, just as we can through these images. The opportunity to see their own process revealed back to them is a major reason for an artist to undertake working in print media and for Kentridge, a seasoned printmaker, these new photogravures live in a space between his films and his graphic works. The films and photogravures are monumental undertakings, exactly what we have come to know and expect from William Kentridge’s major works.
Artist. William Kentridge
Publisher. David Krut Projects
Print house. David Krut Workshop
Collaborative Master Printer. Jillian Ross
Plate Creation. Zhané Warren
Editioning Printer. Kim-Lee Loggenberg
Images Courtesy. David Krut Workshop / Kentridge Studio
Video Courtesy. David Krut Workshop / The Art Newspaper
Text. Phil Sanders