William Kentridge receives the 7th Ruth Baumgarte Art Award
Impressions of the Award Ceremony at the Sprengel Museum Hannover
Dr Reinhard Spieler, Director of the Sprengel Museum Hannover, opened the award ceremony with a video message. The head of the Art Foundation Ruth Baumgarte, Dr Viola Weigel, gave an inspiring speech and Ingeborg Henze-Ketterer and Dr Wolfgang Henze (Galerie Henze & Ketterer, Wichtrach / Bern and estate of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner) honored William Kentridge with a live video message. Dr Hanno Rauterberg, author and journalist DIE ZEIT, paid tribute to life and work in a wonderful laudation. Alexander Baumgarte, Chairman of the Board of the Art Foundation, presented the 7th Ruth Baumgarte Art Prize to William Kentridge. Finally, William Kentridge surprised the audience with the performance of Kurt Schwitters' Ursonate.
The Decision of the Jury
The award of the 7th Ruth Baumgarte Art Award was given this year to the internationally influential and globally highly esteemed artist William Kentridge (born 1955); who lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. He succeeds the painter Michael Armitage (Nairobi / London). With EUR 20,000, the Ruth Baumgarte Art Prize is one of the most highly endowed honors for artists in Germany. The previous prizes went to Nan Goldin, Mona Hatoum, Amelie von Wulffen, Kader Attia and Judith Hopf.
“Social and political issues are also the big topic of contemporary visual arts. However, only a few artists manage to master them artistically and translate them into significant images and visual worlds of high impact. This includes William Kentridge, whose work has fascinated us since documenta 13. The "raging drawing" is the beginning and basis of his artistic method, which immediately reminded us of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, whose work we have been concerned with for a lifetime. The results are of the same intensity.", Justify the members of the award jury Ingeborg Henze-Ketterer and Dr Wolfgang Henze (Galerie Henze & Ketterer, Bern and estate of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner) the decision of the Foundation Advisory Board from their point of view.
William Kentridge is one of the most respected contemporary artists, working as a draftsman, creator of animated films, actor, director and set designer as well as a writer for film and stage. He studied at the Art Foundation in Johannesburg from 1976-78 and at the École Jacques Lecoq theater school in Paris in the 1980s. In his stop-motion animated films, which he has made since the 1980s, he reflects on the history and social circumstances of South Africa. His graphic stories combine his own autobiography with fictional characters. From the 1990s onwards, Kentridge devoted himself increasingly to theater and opera projects, for which he designed sets, costumes and animations and also directed.
As a “white” South African, he campaigns for black affairs. References to Surrealism, Dadaism and Expressionism can be found in his artistic means of expression. Kentridge works mostly in black and white. The drawing is always the basis of his work. The drawing, the passion for film and the theater as well as the empathy for people are the artistic parallels to the work of Ruth Baumgarte.
Kentridge's work has been on display in museums and galleries around the world since the 1990s, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Albertina in Vienna, the Louvre in Paris, the Whitechapel Gallery in London, the Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen, the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, the Kunstmuseum Basel and the Zeitz MOCAA and the Norval Foundation in Cape Town, and most recently in the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg in 2021. He has participated several times in the documenta in Kassel and the Venice Biennale.
His works can be found in museums around the world. He created opera productions for Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Shostakovich's Die Nase and Alban Berg's operas Lulu and Wozzeck. In 2016, Kentridge founded the Center for Less Good Idea in Johannesburg, a space for responsive thinking and creating through experimental, collaborative and interdisciplinary art practices. The center hosts an ongoing program of workshops, public performances and mentoring activities. William Kentridge has received numerous important awards, most recently the Praemium Imperiale in 2019.