William Kentridge: Five Themes @ MoMA

William Kentridge: Five Themes
On view at MoMA: February 24, 2010-May 17, 2010

Review of Multimedia site William Kentridge: Five Themes
Designed by Amelle Stein, RenderMonkey


South African born William Kentridge’s video work is difficult to grasp without first hand interaction. Traditional print media fails to convey the process driving imagery that comprises Kentridge’s “drawings for projection,” nor does is give a sense of his unique treatment of narrative in his work. MoMA’s William Kentridge: Five Themes attempts to give a fuller understanding of Kentridge’s oeuvre by providing excerpted video and related drawings, explanatory text by curators, and interviews with Kentridge that illuminate his process, artistic intent and biography.

The site maps Kentridge’s video and print work chronologically, while also mapping the thematic threads that appear throughout. The site navigates easily and for the most part intuitively, and allows visitors to the site to browse the five themes through a sort of flow chart that appears on the main page. Users can also browse chronologically using arrows provided on detail pages. The design of the site is visually striking, flows well and does not overwhelm Kentridge’s work with flash elements and other unnecessary design features.

Though this site is certainly no replacement for the original work, it does provide a better understanding of what one might expect to see when viewing Kentridge’s art in person. For those unfamiliar with Kentridge I think it gives a greater sense of the level of craftsmanship involved in creating these pieces then can be expressed in text based art historical materials. I found the videos discussions of Kentridge’s process particularly illuminating, and his discussions on individual pieces satisfying as well.

MoMA’s increased effort to provide points of access to their collections through dynamic web features like this one is admirable, and I think quickly becoming a benchmark for the field.