/ASIFA Prize 2014 for William Kentridge

ASIFA Prize 2014 for William Kentridge

Ceremony of presenting the award

The International Animated Film Association (Association Internationale du Film d’Animation) annually presents its ASIFA Prize for outstanding achievements in the art of animation. Established in 1985, the ASIFA Prize is conferred to greatest living artists and the most influential figures in world animation. In its 30-year history, the ASIFA prize has been presented to the likes of John Halas (1986), Karel Zeman (1987), Fyodor Khitruk (1989), Daniel Szczechura (1990), Jan Švankmajer (1990), Yoji Kuri (1993), Paul Driessen (1994), Te Wei (1995), the Quay brothers (1998), Priit Pärn (2001), Raoul Servais (2004), Normand Roger (2006), Borivoj Dovniković Bordo (2011), Bruno Bozzetto (2012), and Joanna Quinn (2013). This valuable trophy, which takes the shape of the work of an artist representing the international animation community, is traditionally awarded on one of the major global animation festivals. On numerous occasions it was presented during the festivals in Annecy, Zagreb, Hiroshima, Varna, Ottawa and Espinho. ASIFA Prize 2014 for the first time will be awarded in Poland, during the Etiuda&Anima festival. By the decision of the ASIFA Board, this year’s laureate will be a man of many talents, active on many fronts, the most eminent artist from the Republic of South Africa, William Kentridge.


Born in 1955, in a family of Polish-Lithuanian Jews, Kentridge has experience as an actor, theatre and film director, director of opera spectacles and scenographer; however, first and foremost, he is a visual artist, author of drawings and prints, as well as animated films, which are created in conjunction with his visual exploits. He is recognized as an artist with a vast cultural background. Often compared to Buster Keaton and Georges Méliès, his works also exhibit traits of European Dadaism and expressionism and show inspiration from George Grosz, Otto Dix, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, as well as African art, which can easily be attributed to his African studies at the University of Witwatersrand. Kentridge himself particularly emphasizes the influence of: Jeana-Antoine Watteau, William Hogarth, Francis Bacon, Ėduard Manet, Pablo Picasso, Samuel Beckett and Vladimir Mayakovsky.

His path to visual arts and animations was roundabout and, among others, led him through theatre studies at L’Ėcole Internationale de Theèâre Jacques Lecoq in Paris. As Kentridge admitted himself: ‘I failed at painting, I failed at acting, I failed at film making, so I discovered at the age of 30 that I was back making drawings’. His path to film animation was paved with charcoal drawings, which, as he emphasizes, offer the ability to quickly reproduce the though process involved in creating a film. Throughout 1989-2003, a time crucial for his animation career, Kentridge created 9 shorts forming a cycle under the common title of 9 Drawings for Projections. The technique employed in the making of these films consisted in drawing with charcoal on large sheets of thick paper, then erasing and redrawing successive images on the same sheet.

Kentridge is known for screenings of his films on many festivals, but owes his world renown primarily to exhibitions in prestigious museums and art galleries. He was featured as part of the Documenta exhibition in Kassel, Germany (1997, 2003 and 2012), the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York (1998, 2010), the Albertina museum in Vienna (2010), Jeu de Paume Gallery in Paris (2010), as well as the Louvre (2010) where he presented Carnets d’Egypte, a project conceived specifically for the Egyptian Room.


In the recent years, much of his time was also devoted to opera. In 2011, his production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute was presented at the de la Monnaie theatre in Brussels, Festival d’Aix in France and the La Scala opera in Milan. His staging of Shostakovich’s opera The Nose was featured in the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 2010 and 2013. However, Kentridge did not remain idle on other fronts: in 2012 he presented a 5-channel video and sound installation The Refusal of Time on the Documenta (13) exhibition in Kassel. Since then the installation was displayed in the MAXXI museum in Rome, in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, as well as other cities including Boston, Perth, Kyoto, Helsinki and Wellington. A major survey exhibition of Kentridge’s works was organized in Rio de Janeiro in 2012 to be later moved to Porto Alegre, Sao Paolo, Bogota, Medellin and Mexico. Schubert’s Winter Journey song cycle in Kentridge’s interpretation was presented in 2014 on the festival in Vienna, Festival d’Aix and during the Holland Festival. Since then, the Winter Journey arranged by Kentridge was performed in the Lincoln Center in New York, Petersburg, Moscow and other European cities. Paper Music, a projection with live music by Philip Miller, premiered in Florence in September 2014. It was also presented in the Carnegie Hall in New York a month later. Alban Berg’s opera, Lulu, directed by Kentridge premiered this summer in Amsterdam and will feature in the repertoire of the Metropolitan Opera in New York in November. In November 2016, Lulu will travel to the English National Opera in London. It would be a near impossible task to name all the artistic initiatives Kentridge has been involved in – his agenda is so tightly packed that it should come as no surprise that he will be staying in Kraków for merely 30 hours arriving from Salzburg, where is preparing another exhibition, to leave for Johannesburg the next day.

In 2010, Kentridge was awarded the prestigious Kyoto Prize for his contribution to art and philosophy. In 2011, he was inducted honorary membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and received the degree of Doctor of Literature honoris causa from the University of London. In 2012, Kentridge presented a series of lectures during the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at the Harvard University. He was appointed member of the American Philosophical Society and American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In the same year the Tel Aviv University awarded him the Dan David Prize, and he was named as Commandeur des Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. In 2013, William Kentridge was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts by Yale University and in 2014 the Honorary Doctorate in Literature by the University of Cape Town. In 2015, Kentridge was elected as Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in London. On 23 November 2015 this wealth of prizes and awards will be joined by the ASIFA Prize 2014, this time made by the world-renowned prof. Jerzy Kucia – winner of ASIFA Prize 2015 presented in Espinho, Portugal.

22. IFF Etiuda&Anima Inauguration + ASIFA Prize for William Kentridge

Malopolska Garden of Arts – Large Screening Room
November 23th (Monday), 8 p.m.


Malopolska Garden of Arts – Small Screening Room
24th November (Tuesday), 7 p.m.