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Radiant Turquoise Self-Portrait
© the estate of R. B. Kitaj. Photo credit: The Ingram Collection of Modern British and Contemporary Art

Radiant Turquoise Self-Portrait 2006

R. B. Kitaj (1932–2007)

The Ingram Collection of Modern British and Contemporary Art

(b Cleveland, Oh., 29 Oct. 1932; d Los Angeles, 21 Oct. 2007). American painter, printmaker, and draughtsman, active mainly in England, where he was one of the most prominent figures of the Pop art movement. Before studying at the Royal College of Art in 1959–61 Kitaj had travelled widely (he was a merchant seaman, then served in the US army) and his wide cultural horizons gave him an influential position among his contemporaries (he studied with Hockney and Allen Jones), particularly in upholding his preference for figuration in opposition to the prevailing abstraction. After a visit to Paris in 1975 he was inspired by Degas to take up pastel, which he used for much of his subsequent work. Late 19th-century French art was a major source of inspiration, as was a preoccupation with his Jewish identity, and he said: ‘I took it into my cosmopolitan head that I should attempt to do Cézanne and Degas and Kafka over again, after Auschwitz.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)


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