Wednesday, 29 February 2012

R. B. Kitaj - part 1

R. B. Kitaj was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1932. He studied at Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York from 1950 to 1951, at the Academy of Fine Art, Vienna from 1951 to 1952, at the Ruskin School of Drawing, Oxford from 1953 to 1959 and at the Royal College of Art, London from 1959 to 1961. Kitaj went on to teach at Camberwell School of Art from 1962 to 1966 and at the University of California, Berkeley from 1970 to 1971. He was Artist in Residence at Dartmouth College, USA from 1978 to 1979.

Kitaj’s first solo show was held at the Marlborough New London Gallery in 1963. This quickly led to a succession of solo exhibitions throughout the world including the Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York (1965), Cleveland Museum of Art (1967), the Icon Gallery, Birmingham (1977) and FIAC, Paris (1978). He continued to exhibit regularly with Marlborough Fine Art in London, New York and Zurich. Retrospectives of his work were held at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC in 1981 and at the Tate Gallery, London in 1994. His work has also been included in numerous group exhibitions.

Kitaj was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1982. He also received Honorary Doctorates from the University of London, the Royal College of Art and Durham University in 1982, 1991 and 1996 respectively. He received the Golden Lion for Painting at the Venice Biennale in 1995 and in 1997 won the Wollaston Award for the most distinguished work in the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition. In 1996 he was nominated Chevalier des Arts and des Lettres by the French Government. Kitaj was elected Royal Academician in 1991 (ARA in 1984), and in 1997 moved to Los Angeles after receiving bad reviews of his 1994 Tate retrospective.

Kitaj controversially accused newspaper critics of driving his wife to her death, then took his own life in 2007. One of his last exhibitions was called Draw Draw Is Better Than Jaw Jaw. Personally I think he was a great artist deserving of a better memorial.

All images © The Estate of R. B. Kitaj

This is part 1 of a 4-part post on the works of American artist R. B. Kitaj:


1958 Erasmus Variations 
oil on canvas 104.9 x 84.2 cm

1960 The Murder of Rosa Luxemburg 
oil and collage on canvas 153 x 152.4 cm

1962 Do You Know the Country? 
oil on canvas 121.9 x 121.9 cm

1962 Isaac Babel Riding with Budyonny 
oil on canvas 182.9 x 152.4 cm

1963-64 Dismantling the Red Tent 
oil and collage on canvas 121.92 x 121.92

1964 Apotheosis of Groundlessness 
oil on canvas

1964 The Ohio Gang 
oil and graphite on canvas 183.1 x 183.5 cm

1964 Where the Railroad Leaves the Sea 
oil on canvas 48 x 60 in

1965 World Ruin through Black Magic 
serigraph 63.5 x 83.8 cm

1965 World Ruin through Black Magic 
serigraph 64.8 x 92.7 cm

1966 Pogany 
screenprint 61 x 91.4 cm

1966 Portrait of Walter Lippman 
oil on canvas

1966 Truman in the White House 
screenprint 55.6 x 79.7 cm

1966-70 Charles Olson 
screenprint

1966-70 Ed Dorn 
screenprint

1966-70 Kenneth Rexroth 
screenprint

1966-70 Revolt on the Clyde (Hugh McDiarmid) 
screenprint

1966-70 Star Betelgeuse (Robert Duncan) 
screenprint

1967 Civic Virtue 
screenprint 53.3 x 66.2 cm

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