Kentridge created Telephone Lady and Walking Man after being invited to make a life-size linoleum cut for the exhibition Self at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival in Oudtshoorn, South Africa. Artist and curator Clive van den Berg, the festival’s organizer, hoped to expand the reach of linoleum-cut printmaking, which has a strong community-based tradition in South Africa, by commissioning contemporary artists of diverse practices to make work in the medium. While Kentridge’s procession-themed etchings are intimately scaled, these exploit the readily available large-size linoleum block. The towering prints, editioned on South Africa’s largest press, dovetail with his concurrent experimentation with scale in the theater, in productions featuring oversize props, such as telephones and pliers, and processions of life-size shadow figures cast from maquette. The pair remains the artist’s only published linoleum cuts and attests to the expressive potential of the black-and-white patterning characteristic of the medium.
William Kentridge: Trace: Prints from the Museum of Modern Art, by Judith B. Hecker, Museum of Modern Art, 2010, pp. 61.