In his charcoal drawings and stuttering, low-tech animations, the South African artist William Kentridge contemplates the fraught history of his nation and his own predicaments as a man and an artist. Power and powerlessness are two of his regular themes. Paradox, poignancy and indirection are his methods for thinking about them. His work is a perfect counterweight to the shrill, brassy art that dominated the years before the stock-market crash, so this affecting show came along at just the right moment.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 3/14-5/31; on view at the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Fla., through 1/17/2010