piece of artwork

Olympia (wing)
, 2007

Hand Lithograph and Collage

Edition #10/25

Purchased: Acquisition Funds, 2010


In nearly three decades of work, South African artist William Kentridge has created works of such powerful social and political import that he may justly be considered one of the most important artists alive today. In this delicate lithograph of a sensual nude, the artist wittily references a tradition of female reclining nudes that begun in the sixteenth-century with Titian. The figure’s pose is indebted to Titian’s famous paintings of a soignée nude Danae, the mythological princess loved by Zeus in the guise of a golden shower. Yet, as the title indicates, the artist is also referencing the stark and direct representation of a reclining nude prostitute painted by Manet in the nineteenth century and entitled Olympia. Just as Manet had unveiled the erotic charge hidden behind the acceptable veneer of classical mythology, in this work Kentridge brilliantly investigates the boundaries between reality and mythology, between sensual and erotic. By creating a collage in which the Titian nude lays against the pages of an encyclopedia, the artist aims to challenge and displace the viewer’s notions of visual pleasure.




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