THEMATIC: Spontaneity and Preparation

From "9 Drawings for Projection (1989-2003): Felix in Exile," 1994. Production stills, dimensions variable. Photo by John Hodgkiss. © William Kentridge. Courtesy of the artist.

What are the roles of spontaneity and planning in the creative process? View William Kentridge's segment, and reflect on his artistic practice—including how he collaborates with others, how his ideas take form, and the balance between spontaneity and preparation. How might the tension between spontaneity and planning in an artistic practice relate to ways of creating or experimenting in other disciplines or fields?

Compare the way Kentridge understands the relationship between spontaneity and planning in the artistic process to the approaches of other artists, including: Oliver Herring, Andrea Zittel, and Laylah Ali.

SEGMENT: William Kentridge in "Compassion"

Before Viewing
What are the benefits and drawbacks of having a plan when creating a work of art? Compare them to the benefits and drawbacks of spontaneity.

While Viewing
Describe the skills that Kentridge employs in his work. What roles does he play when creating his multimedia projects?

After Viewing
Kentridge discusses the relationship of his characters, Soho and Felix, to himself, and he describes much of his work as "a self-portrait in the third person." What do you think he means by this? How does his work relate to autobiography? How does it relate to fantasy or fiction?

Create a drawing and take a digital photograph of it. Exchange your photo for a classmate's and erase, add to, or alter the image you received. Photograph this work and repeat the process with other classmates. Reflect on how the original drawings change over time.

This project can also be done with only drawing. Assign each person a specific color and an eraser that is solely theirs. Before you begin, reflect on the cultural meanings of the colors. (In Kentridge's work, what meanings are conveyed by certain colors that reappear?) Repeat the process outlined above, but use drawing only, without photography.