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Jan. 26, 2006 Press Contact: Josh Schonwald
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Artist William Kentridge earns University of Chicago’s prestigious Rosenberger Medal

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William Kentridge
William Kentridge

South African artist William Kentridge will receive the Rosenberger Medal for outstanding achievement in the creative and performing arts, one of the highest honors the University of Chicago can bestow, on Tuesday, Jan. 31. While at the University, Kentridge will also serve as a Marjorie Kovler Visiting Fellow and deliver a free, public talk about his work at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31 in Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St.

The Rosenberger Medal was established by the University in 1917 to “recognize achievement through research, in authorship, in invention, for discovery, for unusual public service or for anything deemed to be of great benefit to humanity.” Over the years, the University has awarded the medal to author Toni Morrison, conductors Sir Georg Solti and Pierre Boulez, and Frederick Grant Banting, who discovered insulin.

Kentridge, perhaps the best known South African artist, has throughout his career moved between film, drawing and theater, with recent projects frequently integrating elements from all these media. Working primarily with charcoal to create drawings of extraordinary depth, Kentridge is known for taking a multimedia approach to his work. He films and re-films his drawings, erasing the images and drawing more all the time, and then uses those reels to create complex, often political cartoons. A Johannesburg native, much of Kentridge’s work is a meditation on his life and surroundings in the most populous city in South Africa, both during apartheid and in the years since its collapse.

“I am interested in a political art, that is to say an art of ambiguity, contradiction, uncompleted gestures and an uncertain ending – an art and a politics in which optimism is kept in check, and nihilism at bay,” Kentridge has said of his work.

Kentridge was born in Johannesburg in 1955 and graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1976. The MCA San Diego (1998), the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1999) and the Metropolitan Museum in New York (2004) are among the museums to feature solo shows of his work. In 1998 a survey exhibition of his art was hosted by the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, continuing to museums in Munich, Barcelona, London, Marseille and Graz. In 1999, he was awarded the Carnegie Medal at the 1999/2000 Carnegie International. In 2001, a substantial survey show of Kentridge’s work was launched in Washington, traveling thereafter to New York, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Cape Town. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev curated a new retrospective exhibition of his work for the Castello di Rivoli in Turin in January 2004, touring thereafter to Dusseldorf, Sydney, Montreal, Johannesburg and Miami.

While at the University of Chicago, Kentridge will deliver a public talk entitled “Journey to the Moon” about his project “Seven Fragments for George Méliès.” The free talk is part of the Marjorie Kovler Visiting Fellows program, an initiative designed to encourage interaction between students at the University and prominent individuals in the arts and public affairs. Past fellows include Robert Redford, Betty Friedan, Kurt Vonnegut and Scott Turow.
Last modified at 04:56 PM CST on Thursday, January 26, 2006.

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