David Krut became involved in the arts in 1973 when he project-managed the opening of a gallery in the Bond Street arts precinct of London. This was one of the start-up projects in various fields with which he was involved in the 1970s.
His committed career in international arts commenced in 1981, when he collaborated with Master Printer Jack Shirreff of 107 Workshop in Wiltshire, UK, to publish a limited edition fine art etching with Joe Tilson, one of the Pop Artists who had studied at the Royal College of Art. David Hockney was the most famous of the British Pop artists and Krut became a private art dealer of Hockney’s work as well as the work of other American Pop artists during the 1980s.
Krut was born in Johannesburg and made regular visits to South Africa throughout the 1980s sharing his professional knowledge with aspiring local art practitioners. Krut met William Kentridge at an exhibition opening in May 1992. Kentridge was about to leave for an exhibition of his work in London and Krut suggested he visit Shirreff, with whom Krut had by then collaborated on editions by various artists since the publishing of the Joe Tilson edition. Kentridge’s visit to 107 Workshop enabled him to create numerous large format etchings and he continued to make visits to the workshop whenever he was in the UK.
Krut’s understanding of the range of work created by Kentridge, including video and theatre, led to him publish the William Kentridge CD-ROM in 1998, the first major publication on the artist’s work. Unexpectedly, the digital medium then in its early format, led to David Krut Publishing becoming an international publisher of books.
In 1999, the French Institute in Johannesburg approached Krut to publish books on South African artists. The TAXI Art Books series produced 15 monographs over 10 years on contemporary South African artists, such being the first title dedicated to the work of those artists and the first series of its kind on local contemporary arts. Each TAXI book was accompanied by an Educational Supplement to facilitate the teaching of visual arts. The books were dedicated local productions providing the artists, writers, arts educationalists, book designers, photographers and printers their first participation in an art publishing project.
David Krut Publishing continued publishing books for some years, including the two books on the Constitutional Court in collaboration with Judge Albie Sachs. Further publications on Kentridge included William Kentridge Prints, Thinking Aloud, William Kentridge Nose: Thirty Etchings, William Kentridge: Flute, Universal Archive: William Kentridge as Printmaker (in collaboration with Hayward Publishing), Tate Artist Series: William Kentridge (in collaboration with Tate Publishing), a video entitled Drawing the Passing and a CD of Philip Miller’s Music for the Films of William Kentridge.
In 2002 Krut established David Krut Workshop in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg to mentor artists in etching and printmaking as an adjunct to their activities in their studios. This collaborative arts resource of workshop, gallery, bookstore and arts education facility attracted galleries and art collectors to The Parkwood Art Strip. In 2010 David Krut Workshop relocated to become the pioneer arts facility at the Arts on Main precinct in the inner city. Arts on Main proved to be the Joburg epicentre for media and visitors to South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
David Krut Projects has trained a skilled team of printers, creatives and arts collaborators working at The Blue House in Parkwood and at Arts On Main. It functions as a community facility to allow skills transfer and mentoring in artmaking, as well as arts communications and media. The bookstores encourage art knowledge and also support an early childhood development project in the hopes of encouraging careers in the arts and literacy.
Innocentia Rantao is the Books administrator and school liaison at David Krut Bookstores. Originally from Vereeniging, Innocentia has been a member of the David Krut team for the last ten years.
What she loves about her job is being a jack of all trades, learning about art and interacting with interesting artists from South Africa and abroad. When asked about the best part of her job, she answered
I love being surrounded by books. I also love the school visitations that I do because this gives me a chance to showcase the knowledge that I have to the teachers and this boosts my confidence.
Innocentia’s favourite memory is the time the team went to see Steven Spielberg’s War Horse at Monte Casino.