Biography of Ronald B. Kitaj (1932-2007)

English painter, born in Cleveland, Ohio on October 29, 1932 and died in Los Angeles on October 21, 2007. It is associated with the Pop-Art and new figuration.

At the end of their primary school he/she enlisted in the Merchant Navy and made several trips to the Caribbean and South America. Between one and another, he/she studied painting at the Cooper Union in New York, where he/she received the influence of abstract expressionism. He/She also studied painting at the Akademie Vienna. He/She traveled through Europe and North Africa. After his military service, he/she continued his artistic education in England, the Ruskin School in Oxford and the Royal College of Art in London. He/She finished his studies in 1962. This experience and his extensive knowledge of foreign cultures conferred it a great influence on his fellow in the Royal College, especially Hockney, who joins a close friendship.

Its preference for figuration is any to the prevailing tendency to abstraction, characteristic of that time, and encouraged other artists to include extra-artistic interests in its work. His painting is interested in history, politics, sociology and, in particular, by the poetry.

In 1962 he/she began working with Chris Prater in editions of collages. His first individual exhibition took place, with notable success, at the Marlborough Gallery in London, in 1963. In 1965 he/she exhibited in New York with the same Gallery and in Los Angeles County Museum of art; and, in 1967, at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. He/She has taught at various American and European universities.

In his last works increasingly noticed more the influence of the French art of the 19th century, which had a deeper than his previous Duchampian influences meaning. Another aspect on which investigated his work was the meaning of Jewish identity in this century. Although it is not possible to define it as a Pop artist, the fact is that his images had a great influence on the development of the English Pop; However, Kitaj was emphatic disregard for popular culture, countered by cultural interests of a higher order. Characteristic of his work was The Autumn of Central Paris (After Walter Benjamin), of 1973, which "offers a scene of Parisian Café in which the critic Walter Benjamin, juxtaposed against a man who wielding a Red-billed, can be identified as announcing the calamities of 1940 [...], which would lead to Benjamin to suicide while the German troops occupied the French capital" (Arnason).

Major retrospective exhibitions of his work have been in Washington, Cleveland and Dusseldorf in 1981.

In 1994, a retrospective of his work, exhibited at the Tate Gallery in London, brought together nearly fifty thousand visitors. However, the London critics Vettel the art of Kitaj, who described, in addition to "painter vain, full of love itself and unworthy of a footer in the history of figurative art" (Andrew Graham-Dixon, The Independent). According to the own painter, these and other similar criticisms caused the sudden death of his wife (the also painter Sandra Fischer), who suffered a cerebral hemorrhage as a result of the disgust that had caused him. In vanganza, he/she painted the canvas titled the critic kills, exposed in 1997, in the midst of a hectic debate, at London's Royal Academy.


British Art in the 20th Century, Munich, Prestel-Verlag, 1985.