By his own admission, South African artist William Kentridge’s career got off to a slow start. Even by the time he was in his mid-40s and had built a reputation in his own country, a UK broadsheet critic could declare without embarrassment that he had never heard of Kentridge when reviewing, positively, his 1999 show at London’s Serpentine gallery. It is not an admission that has been made much since. Kentridge’s work is shown and collected by great museums all over the world and his growing status as a public intellectual saw him deliver the prestigious Norton Lectures at Harvard in 2012.
Kentridge will be difficult to avoid in London this autumn. His first major UK show in 15 years opens at the Whitechapel Gallery later this month. It will be followed by his own design and direction of the English National Opera’s production of Berg’s Lulu, a collaboration with the composer Philip Miller at the Print Room, as well as a lecture.