David Krut Podcast | William Kentridge 27 Years of collaboration – Feature on the Universal Archive

Listening time | 4 minutes
Hosted by Britt Lawton, edited by Hagen Gersie & research by Jacqueline Flint

Upon reflecting on 27 years of collaboration between William Kentridge and David Krut, David Krut Projects is showcasing large-scale and iconic artworks published by David Krut and other studios over the years in an exhibition titled ’27 Years of Collaboration.’This episode looks at the artworks included in the exhibition from the Universal Archive. Particularly ‘Ref. 13,15,16’ and ‘Peonies.’

Universal Archive: Ref 13, 15, 16
The UA linocuts began as a series of small ink drawings by William on pages of old dictionaries

These were made using both old and new paint brushes, which resulted in solid and very fine lines, with an unconstrained technique of mark-making. To make the prints, the ink drawings were photo-transferred onto linoleum plates and then carved by the DKW printmakers and William’s studio assistants. As a result of the meticulous translation of a gestural mark, the linocuts push the boundaries of the characteristics traditionally achieved by the medium. 

In these three works, a coffee pot is transformed into a female figure, giving a human quality to the inanimate object. Reference 13 is most recognisable as a coffee pot and small changes are made to the image so that by Ref 16 the object has more human qualities. This movement from figuration to abstraction and back places this body of work at an interesting intersection between printmaking and animation – speaking to William’s practice in videography.

Universal Archive: Peonies

Universal Archive (Peonies), 2012

The Universal Archive series also includes a work titled Peonies – a linocut image of a bouquet of peonies in a vase, unlike the rest of the UA series, this work is not printed on found dictionary pages but rather on archival paper and includes hand painting.  The traditional still life image of flowers in a vase is referenced throughout Western art history, from the Impressionists to the contemporary times. This image recalls most specifically the 1882 painting by Edouard Manet of flowers in a crystal vase. Flower-centric still life images function in Kentridge’s entire body of work like breathing space – a relatively benign image that becomes the platform for experimentation with medium, technique, substrate, connotative content, or simply a moment in which to rest. Another work where this theme can be seen is Test for Manet, printed at dkw in 2016.