Ronald Brooks Kitaj

Ronald Brooks Kitaj (October 29, 1932 – October 21, 2007) was an American artist with Jewish roots who spent much of his life in England
Kitaj had a significant influence on British pop art, with his figurative paintings featuring areas of bright colour, economic use of line and overlapping planes which made them resemble collages, but eschewing most abstraction and modernism.[citation needed] Allusions to political history, art, literature and Jewish identity often recur in his work, mixed together on one canvas to produce a collage effect. He also produced a number of screen-prints with printer Chris Prater. He told Tony Reichardt, manager of the Marlborough New London Gallery, that he made screen-prints as sketches for his future paintings. From then onwards Tony Reichardt commissioned Chris Prater to print three or four copies of every print he made on canvas. His later works became more personal.





Kitaj was recognised as being one of the world's leading draftsmen, almost on a par with, or compared to, Degas. Indeed, he was taught drawing at Oxford by Percy Horton, whom Kitaj claimed was a pupil of Walter Sickert, who was a pupil of Degas; and the teacher of Degas studied under Ingres. Meanwhile, Edgar Wind encouraged him to become a 'Warburgian artist'. His more complex compositions build on his line work using a montage practice, which he called 'agitational usage'. Kitaj often depicts disorienting landscapes and impossible 3D constructions, with exaggerated and pliable human forms. He often assumes a detached outsider point of view, in conflict with dominant historical narratives. This is best portrayed by his masterpiece "The Autumn of Central Paris" (1972–73), wherein philosopher Walter Benjamin is portrayed, as both the orchestrator and victim of historical madness. The futility of historical progress creates a disjointed architecture that is maddening to deconstruct. He staged a major exhibition at Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1965, and a retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. in 1981. He selected paintings for an exhibition, "The Artist's Eye", at the National Gallery, London in 1980. In 1981 he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member and became a full Academician in 1984.





 In his later years, he developed a greater awareness of his Jewish heritage, which found expression in his works, with reference to the Holocaust and influences from Jewish writers such as Kafka and Walter Benjamin, and he came to consider himself to be a "wandering Jew". In 1989, Kitaj published "First Diasporist Manifesto", a short book in which he analysed his own alienation, and how this contributed to his art. His book contained the remark: "The Diasporist lives and paints in two or more societies at once." And he added: "You don't have to be a Jew to be a Diasporist."





 A second retrospective was staged at the Tate Gallery in 1994. Critical reviews in London were almost universally negative. British press savagely attacked the Tate exhibit, calling Kitaj a pretentious poseur who engaged in name dropping. Kitaj took the criticism very personally, declaring that "anti-intellectualism, anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism" had fueled the vitriol. Despite the bad reviews, the exhibition moved to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and afterwards to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1995. His second wife, Sandra Fisher died of a brain aneurysm in 1994, shortly after his exhibition at the Tate Gallery had ended. He blamed the British press for her death, stating that "they were aiming for me, but they got her instead." David Hockney concurred and said that he too believed the London art critics had killed Sandra Fisher. Kitaj returned to the US in 1997 and settled in Los Angeles, near his first son. "When my Wife died", he wrote to Edward Chaney, "London died for me and I returned home to California to live among sons and grandsons - It was a very good move and now I begin my 3rd and (last?) ACT! hands across The Sea." Three years later he wrote: "I grow older every day and rather like my hermit life." The "Tate War" and Sandra's death became a central themes for his later works: he often depicted himself and his deceased wife as angels. In Los Angeles No. 22 (Painting-Drawing) the beautiful young (and naked) girl records the shadow of her aged lover (on whose lap she sits) in a pose directly taken from the Scots Grand Tourist David Allan's Origin of Painting. The latter was included by Ernst Gombrich in his 1995 National Gallery exhibition (and catalogue) on Shadows so that Kitaj would have seen it two years before he left England for ever.Wikipedia





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