In December 2006, DKW began its collaboration with William Kentridge on a series of prints that was to elaborate on Kentridge’s work on the Shostakovich opera The Nose, commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, New York, to premiere in March 2010. Shostakovich’s opera is based on one of the most famous stories in Russian literature, Nikolai Gogol’s The Nose, published in 1837. The story follows the adventures of the pompous government official Kovalyov who wakes up one day to find that his nose has left his face and gone walking around St Petersburg.
In his interpretation of Gogol and Shostakovich, Kentridge has projected the story forward to the 1917 Russian Revolution and the Russian avant-garde, and then into the twentieth century to include allusions to Stalin’s purges of the 1930s. But he has also cast his eye back to consider some of the literary influences on Gogol such as Lawrence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy and even Cervantes’s Don Quixote. Drawing on these and other texts, including excerpts from Russian newspapers, clips from Russian films of the twenties and thirties, pages from Russian encyclopaedias, and parts of a transcript of a 1937 meeting of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party in which the theoretician Nikolai Bukharin is being interrogated, Kentridge is creating not only his opera production but several other works.
The prints, now called simply ‘Nose’, were imagined as a journey not only with Kovalyov, but through Russian history. They reflect on music, ballet, the history of Western art (Russian and otherwise) and the various fortunes of the Communist party in its Soviet and South African incarnations.
‘Nose’ is now a suite of thirty prints, each measuring roughly 15 x 20 cm (5 x 8 in). The prints explore a number of techniques but rely primarily on Kentridge’s strong drypoint marks, softened by sugarlift aquatint and punctuated, in several plates, by a strong Constructivist red. Each plate is engraved with a number signalling its place in the series. There are fifty prints in each edition and they have been editioned by Jillian Ross, Niall Bingham and Mlungisi Kongisa.
Please note the following works are only available as part of the complete set of thirty prints: Nose 1,3,7,9,26,29 and 30.