Kitaj, R. B.

Kitaj, R. B. (Ronald Brooks Kitaj) kĭtīˈ [key], 1932–2007, American painter, b. Chagrin Falls, Ohio. In 1958 he moved to London, where he attended the Ruskin School, Oxford, and the Royal College of Art, London, and became more closely associated with British rather than American painting. Kitaj, his friend David Hockney, and several other artists were involved with the beginnings of the pop art movement in Britain. In his early work Kitaj frequently blended pop collage methods with brushstrokes resembling those of abstract expressionism. Kitaj's often sexually charged paintings are grounded in exquisite figurative drawing, their smooth surfaces splashed with areas of bright color and covered with collagelike intersecting and interlapping planes, people, and objects. His strong intellectual interests, including surrealism, art and political history, literature, Jewish history, and Jewish identity, are themes that run through his work. His paintings of the late 1980s and 1990s (e.g., The Wedding, 1989–90, Tate Gallery) took on a more personal cast. In 1997 he returned to the United States and settled in Los Angeles.

See his First Diasporist Manifesto (1989) and Second Diasporist Manifesto (2007); J. Rios, Kitaj: Pictures and Conversations (1997); studies by M. Livingstone (1999), J. Aulich and J. Lynch (2000), and A. Lambirth (2004).

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