On Wednesday, a large-scale drawing by William Kentridge sold for £682,750 ($935,000) at an auction in London, setting a new record for a drawing by the South African artist.
Large Typerwriters (2003), a diptych made using charcoal and pastel, depicts two vintage typewriters. 5 bidders competed for the work during a contemporary art sale at Bonhams in London, where it was estimated at £350,000–£550,000 ($480,000–$755,000). It went to a buyer in Asia.
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The result surpasses the last record for a Kentridge drawing set at auction, when his 1988 pencil, chalk, and charcoal work on paper titled The Pool sold at Sotheby’s London in June 2019 for $566,700. The price in Bonhams sale also makes Large Typerwriters the second-most expensive work by Kentridge to ever sell at auction, next to his 25-part bronze piece Procession (in 25 parts), sold at Sotheby’s New York in 2013 for $1.5 million, against an estimate of $300,000.
Large Typewriters features one of the recurring motifs in Kentridge’s oeuvre, which comprises mainly black and white drawings. Ralph Taylor, Bonhams global head of postwar and contemporary art, said in a statement that the drawing is “a perfect example of Kentridge’s practice.”
This is the first time the work has ever appeared at auction. Before the seller acquired it, it was in the art collection of the Melbourne-based oil and gas company BHP Billiton. Much of BHP’s collection, which focused on works by South African artists, was sold off in 2003 at Christie’s.
Bonham’s 30-lot contemporary sale made a total of £4 million ($5.5 million), realizing an 87 percent sell-through rate. Other highlights from the sale include Banksy’s Girl With Ice Cream on Palette (2004), which sold for £1.1 million ($1.5 million); Kenneth Noland’s late-career painting Return (1970), sold for £231,500 ($316,900); and Sturtevant’s Study for Warhol’s Marilyn (1965), which went for £206,500 ($282,700).