American-born artist R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007) was one of the most controversial artists of the second-half of the twentieth century. His distinctive, highly personal and often challenging works drew on many influences ranging from literature to politics and film. The British Museum holds a near complete set of the artist’s proofs, the best representation of the artist’s graphic works in the UK.
Kitaj worked in England for almost forty years, until 1994 when his ill-fated retrospective exhibition at the Tate was savaged by the critics. Hurt by the hostile reception of his works in his adopted homeland and grieving for the sudden death of his young wife, the painter Sandra Fisher, Kitaj left England for good, returning to America, declaring, ‘London is dead to me now’. It was in London that he developed his early style and influenced many of his close circle of friends, including David Hockney, who he met at the RCA, and Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach. This led him to coin the term ‘School of London’, later associated with this group of purely figurative artists.
This exciting and beautifully produced book amounts to the definitive collection of the artist’s graphic works, featuring 300 works reproduced in full colour, and is the first to examine in detail Kitaj’s prints for almost twenty years.
Published to complement an exhibition at the British Museum from 30 May to 1 September 2013.
Jennifer Ramkalawon is a curator of prints and drawings in the British Museum, where she has organized many print displays. She is a specialist in late nineteenth- and twentieth-century art and culture, and is the author of Toulouse-Lautrec and Love and Marriage.