O Sentimental Machine
Frankfurt’s Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung will feature a both comprehensive and unusual exhibition project involving one of the internationally most important contemporary artists by staging a solo show paying tribute to William Kentridge (b. 1955) in thirty-two of its rooms in 2018. The South African artist, who is at home in multiple artistic disciplines, has been invited to bring his works into dialogue with the holdings of the house’s sculptural collection that spans five thousand years. The exhibition comprises more than thirty, partly space-filling installations exemplifying the range of Kentridge’s approach.
The presentation developed for the Liebieghaus focuses on the artist’s fundamental interest in the phenomenon of movement and its material-mechanic and optical-illusionist generation. Ranging from automatic theatres, which were already in great demand in the Ancient World, to Renaissance anamorphoses and the precursors of nineteenth-century cinematographic apparatuses such as phénakisticopes and zoetropes, the techniques Kentridge falls back on also forge a bridge across a long span of time. The nineteenth-century constitutes a second exhibition focus, which offers itself to the development of issues concerning the inhuman definition of time and work in the era of industrialisation—issues that have pervaded William Kentridge’s political work from its very beginnings.
The exhibition ‘O Sentimental Machine’ not only establishes a connection between Kentridge’s œuvre and the ‘great’ history of sculpture but also intensely relates the former to the opulence of Historicism toward the end of the nineteenth century. For the first time William Kentridge’s works will be presented on a stage that combines with the artist’s conceptual, narrative and aesthetic intentions in a close and fertile way.
Illustration: William Kentridge, Photo: Städel Museum