William Kentridge Lithographs

William Kentridge with the Shostakovich No.10 collaged lithographs in his studio.

William Kentridge is seated in his studio with multiple collaged portraits in multi colours on the table

William Kentridge working on portrait proofs in his studio.

Elevated view looking down at 36 Soviet portraits by William Kentridge in his Johannesburg studio

Final layout of the Portraits for Shostakovich in William Kentridge's studio.

Film still from Oh to Believe in Another World by William Kentridge featuring Trotsky, Lenin and Stalin

Screen grab from Oh To Beleive in Another World showing how the lithographs were used in the performance.

The Lucerne Symphony Orchestra in Switzerland commissioned William Kentridge to make a film to accompany the live performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Op.93 in June 2022. The film is titled Oh To Believe in Another World.

“The central characters of the film are Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin; Shostakovich and his student Elmira Nazirova (about which there are different theories regarding her relationship with Shostakovich and the 10th Symphony and whether her name is embedded into some of the key signatures of the symphony); Mayakovsky and his lover Lily Brik. These characters appear as puppets, but are also performed by actors inside of puppets. The form is one of collage, and the larger proposition is that one needs to understand history as a form of collage. The artistic medium is a way of thinking about the historical events.

The story of Shostakovich and his complicated relationship to the state in the Soviet Union, from its early days just after the 1917 revolution, all the way through to Stalin’s death in 1953, provides the material for thinking visually about the trajectory that Shostakovich had to follow, from the early days of the Soviet Union to the writing of the symphony.

This is a retrospective look at the four decades of the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, from the perspective of 1953 when both Stalin died and the first performance of the symphony was presented. In the 1920s there was the death of Lenin; in the 1930s the suicide of Mayakovsky; in the 1940s, the assassination of Trotsky; in the 1950s the death of Stalin – and here we are, almost 70 years later. The report that remains of these decades is in the music of Shostakovich, the one who against expectation got away, and survived.” William Kentridge 2022

New Editions from The Artists' Press

Artists A - L (listed by surname)

Artists M - X (listed by surname)

Portraits for Shostakovich Symphony No.10 in E Minor, Opus 93 (I)-(IV)

Map-fold artwork by William Kentridge featuring nine portraits of Lenin in muted greys and black with red elements
William-Kentridge-Shostakovich-portraits-I-in-red-clam-shell-box

Title: Portraits for Shostakovich Symphony No.10 in E Minor, Opus 93 (I)
Medium: Multiple colour lithograph, collage and chine collé in nine panels adhered to cotton fabric, presented in a clamshell box
Size: 165.4 x 111.5 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: USD $ 35 000 (excl.VAT)

Nine collaged portraits of Mayakovsky, Lily Brik and Shostakovich in a map fold lithograph in  turquoise, acid green and various blacks
William-Kentridge-Shostakovich-portraits-II-in-turquoise-clam-shell-box

Title: Portraits for Shostakovich Symphony No.10 in E Minor, Opus 93 (II)
Medium: Multiple colour lithograph, collage and chine collé in nine panels adhered to cotton fabric presented in a clamshell box
Size: 165.4 x 111.5 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: USD $ 35 000 (excl.VAT)

Limited edition print divided into nine sections with portraits of Elmira Nazirova, Mayakovsky and Stalin by William Kentridge
William-Kentridge-Shostakovich-portraits-III-in-turquoise-clam-shell-box

Title: Portraits for Shostakovich Symphony No.10 in E Minor, Opus 93 (III)
Medium: Multiple colour lithograph, collage and chine collé in nine panels adhered to cotton fabric presented in a clamshell box
Size: 165.4 x 111.5 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: USD $ 35 000 (excl.VAT)

Nine-panel map-fold limited edition print by William Kentridge with portraits of Trotsky, Shostakovich and Nazirova
William-Kentridge-Shostakovich-portraits-IV-in-grey-clam-shell-box

Title: Portraits for Shostakovich Symphony No.10 in E Minor, Opus 93 (IV)
Medium: Multiple colour lithograph, collage and chine collé in nine panels adhered to cotton fabric presented in a clamshell box
Size: 165.4 x 111.5 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: USD $ 35 000 (excl.VAT)

Single Portraits for Shostakovich Symphony No.10 in E Minor, Opus 93

Portrait of Lenin by William Kentridge on a red background with face split down the middle using torn paper and muted colours for face

Title: Vladimir I: I
Medium: Five colour lithograph and collage with staining
Paper size: 57 x 40 cm
Image size: 57 x 40 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: USD $ 5 000 (excl.VAT)

Head and shoulders portrait of Lenin consisting of hand-printed and collaged elements adhered to white paper by William Kentridge

Title: Vladimir I: II
Medium: Seven colour lithograph and collage with staining
Paper size: 57 x 40 cm
Image size: 43.5 x 32.5 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: USD $ 5 000 (excl.VAT)

Head and shoulders outline of Lenin with marching women holding a red flag drawn into where facial features would usually be by William Kentridge

Title: Vladimir I: III
Medium: Seven colour lithograph and collage
Paper size: 57 x 40 cm
Image size: 47.2 x 25.2 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: USD $ 5 000 (excl.VAT)

Portrait of Lily Brik facing outwards with orange collaged torn pice of paper with text on her head and covering one eye by William Kentridge

Title: Lily: I
Medium: Five colour lithograph and collage
Paper size: 57 x 40 cm
Image size: 43 x 29 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: USD $ 5 000 (excl.VAT)

Portrait of Lily Brik looking at viewer wearing an orange head scarf on a plain background by William Kentridge

Title: Lily: II
Medium: Four colour lithograph and collage with staining
Paper size: 57 x 40 cm
Image size: 43 x 37 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: USD $ 5 000 (excl.VAT)

Vladimir Mayakovsky limited edition hand-printed portrait by William Kentridge with some facial features replaced by Russian Constructivist features

Title: Vladimir M: I
Medium: Five colour lithograph and collage with staining
Paper size: 57 x 40 cm
Image size: 48.2 x 25 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: USD $ 5 000 (excl.VAT)

Portrait of Vladimir Mayakovsky by William Kentridge facing viewer wearing a hat, face split diagonally from top left referencing collage on white background

Title: Vladimir M: II
Medium: Five colour lithograph and collage 
Paper size: 57 x 40 cm
Image size: 47 x 37.4 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: USD $ 5 000 (excl.VAT)

Portrait of a Soviet official by William Kentridge. Drawn in black of a man wearing glasses facing forward with torn orange strips of paper with text in the background

Title: Politburo
Medium: Four colour lithograph and collage with staining
Paper size: 57 x 40 cm
Image size: 48.2 x 32 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: USD $ 5 000 (excl.VAT)

Head and shoulders abstract portrait of a woman with torn red paper collaged onto half of her face by William Kentridge.

Title: Elmira: I
Medium: Five colour chine collé lithograph with staining
Paper size: 57 x 40 cm
Image size: 46.8 x 30 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: USD $ 5 000 (excl.VAT)

Portrait of Elmira Nazirova by William Kentridge with head split into three sections using red text collaged strips hand printed

Title: Elmira: II
Medium: Five colour lithograph and collage
Paper size: 57 x 40 cm
Image size: 43.5 x 32.5 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: USD $ 5 000 (excl.VAT)


Head and shoulders portrait of Trotsky by William Kentridge in black and white with collaged red and green text elements

Title: Trotsky: I
Medium: Seven colour chine collé lithograph
Paper size: 57 x 40 cm
Image size: 46.8 x 30 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: USD $ 5 000 (excl.VAT)

Portrait of Trotsky showing head and shoulders facing toward the viewer with abstracted elements, by William Kentridge

Title: Trotsky: II
Medium: Seven colour chine collé lithograph
Paper size: 57 x 40 cm
Image size: 48.8 x 27.5 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: USD $ 5 000 (excl.VAT)

Portrait of Trotsky in red and black on white background. Red pencil in front of the forehead and multiple spectacles and eyes by William Kentridge.

Title: Trotsky: III
Medium: Six colour lithograph and collage with staining
Paper size: 57 x 40 cm
Image size: 48.2 x 32 cm
Edition size: 20
Price: USD $ 5 000 (excl.VAT)

Kentridge drew 36 portraits of Soviet intellectuals, politicians and members of the cultural avant garde as part of his reflection on Shostakovich’s work. Key figures appear in multiple iterations. Known for breaking new musical ground in experimenting with contrast and ambivalent tonalities, Shostakovich composed music under the pressure of Soviet controls on art. In its experimentation, his 10th Symphony violated many of these restrictions and was only made public once Stalin died. Kentridge is interested the Soviet project as an expression of a failed utopia. Utopian ideals are necessary to release intellect, ideas and energy. The characters in the film were all participants in the politics and culture of their time and embody the simultaneous hope in revolutionary ideals and the disillusionment of their failure in the lived world.

The print collaboration process began with taking grained film (which has a surface texture similar to a litho stone) and drawing and painting materials to Kentridge at his Johannesburg studio where he drew each colour on a separate film, working from collages that he had made. The grained film drawings were exposed onto aluminium printing plates and were then printed by hand at The Artists’ Press. To build up the black tones, two different plates were used, a warm black and a cold black. Some of the prints have as many as seven colours, which means that Kentridge drew seven different separations for them, and they have gone through the press seven times. Once printed, each print was torn down by hand into its individual collage pieces. We used templates to do this to get the exact same tear that Kentridge had made. Some of the prints were stained with watercolour paint by hand. Using grids, the pieces were carefully assembled into the faces and then adhered to the base sheet.



William Kentridge Print and Artists' Book Archive of work done in collaboration with The Artists' Press.

Oh To Believe in Another World article in Wanted Magazine by James Sey


Four-different-coloured-clam-shell-boxes-for-William-Kentridge-Shostakovic-Portrait-prints-in-a-pile

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