William Kentridge,is a prolific creator of editioned fine art prints which with his drawing work remain the driving force behind films, theatre, and opera. Following on his major project with David Krut Print Workshop DKW of a series of etchings relating to his production of Shostakovich’s opera The Nose, which premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, in March 2010, he is currently collaborating on an extensive group of linocuts entitled Universal Archive
In 1992, Kentridge met David Krut and has since collaborated at various print workshops on various series of editioned intaglio prints. Since the publishing of a CD-ROM on the artist in 1997, Krut has published various books on Kentridge. Since the establishment of DKW in Johannesburg in 2002, the printers at DKW have collaborated with Kentridge on projects such as Thinking Aloud, the Magic Flute, Nose, West Coast Series, Scribble Cat and starting in 2012 Universal Archive. Editions from DKW are now included in permanent collections such as The Tate, in London, The National Gallery and the Corcoran Collection, in Washington DC, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, in New York and many others.
The Universal Archive linocuts began as a series of small ink drawings by on pages of old dictionaries, made using both old and new paintbrushes. They were created in a state described by Kentridge as “productive procrastination”, during the period when he was writing the text that would become the Norton Lectures, delivered at Harvard University in early 2012. The images from the Universal Archive are made up of both solid and very fine lines, with an unconstrained virtuosity of mark-making. The ink drawings were initially attached to linoleum plates and painstakingly carved by the DKW printmakers and the artist’s studio assistants. As the project expanded, the images were photo-transferred to linoleum plates in order to preserve the original drawings. The images have been printed onto pages from various books, including early copies of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary and Encyclopaedia Britannica.