Kentridge works fetch up to R1m

2011-02-09 22:35

Johannesburg - The company insuring the artworks by William Kentridge would not reveal on Wednesday the value of the prints that were stolen from a Johannesburg gallery.

Artinsure did however say that works by Kentridge, considered to be South Africa’s top artist, often fetch up to R1m and more at auctions.

The four prints were stolen from the David Knut Projects gallery in Parkwood where an exhibition of Kentridge’s titled Nose was held last year.

Kentridge, who is best known for his animated films of shape-shifting charcoal drawings, has displayed his work in some of the world's top museums.

He won critical acclaim for his production of The Nose, an opera by Dmitri Shostakovich, which was performed at the Metropolitan Theatre in New York.

Last year he won the Kyoto Prize, one of the most prestigious honours in the arts.

Stolen from drawer

The prints were stolen on Saturday but the gallery’s management only noticed on Monday that they were stolen, manager Taryn Hackett said.

"It appears that a couple came in, created a diversion and there was a sleight of hand," director of Artinsure Gordon Massie told AFP.

He said police and private investigators were still piecing together how the heist was executed.

The manager of the David Knut Gallery in Parkwood, Taryn Hackett, said the four small, limited-edition prints by Kentridge went missing from a drawer.

Hackett said the prints will be difficult to sell because Kentridge's prominence will lead potential buyers to question sellers closely.

She could not give an estimate of the prints' value.

He called Kentridge "probably the foremost contemporary artist in South Africa".

Inspired by Johannesburg

Last month, a sculpture entitled General Lazare Hoche, by French sculptor Jules Dalou, was stolen from the Johannesburg Art Gallery.

Kentridge once said about living in Johannesburg: "I have never been able to escape Johannesburg, and in the end, all my work is rooted in this rather desperate provincial city.

"I have never tried to make illustrations of apartheid, but the drawings and the films are certainly spawned by, and feed off, the brutalised society left in its wake."