William Kentridge

The first must-see museum show of the new year features South African-born William Kentridge across an array of media that, compared to other artists, seems unfairly broad. He makes tabletop bronze sculptures out of corkscrews. He illustrates every frame of his short animated films—three, screened in separate galleries—by hand, using charcoal and paper. He draws both panels magnified by an old-fashioned stereoscopic viewer, bringing into 3D focus the quasi-scientific detritus of an imagined Victorian age. He incorporates old French encyclopedias, a glowing medicine cabinet, vintage maps, Matisse-like silhouette cut-outs, and outdated newspapers into a kind of alternate history where the 19th century crumbles into the next. Yet there are traces of the new, too. In his eight-minute animation Stereoscope (1999), there are glimpses of nuclear cooling towers and modern riot police in a setting more like Kafka’s Mitteleuropa—trams, petty bourgeois, ink blotters, fountain pens. The film’s visible eraser smudges suggest both a world disappearing and a new one being drawn in its place. The exhibit runs through May 3, and Kentridge will visit Seattle for a one-man performance (March 9, advance tickets now on sale) and to direct Pacific Operaworks’ production of Il Ritorno d’Ulisse. But visit the show sooner than that. (Closed Mon.) BRIAN MILLER

Feb. 21-May 3, 11 a.m., 2009

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