Kitaj, R. B.

Kitaj, R. B.

(Ronald Brooks Kitaj) (kĭtī`), 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 HockneyHockney, David,
1937–, English painter, studied Royal College of Art. Moving from a distorted, semiexpressionist form of pop art, Hockney developed a highly personal realistic style, producing images saturated with color that are witty, uniquely in the moment, and often
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, and several other artists were involved with the beginnings of the pop artpop art,
movement that restored realism to avant-garde art; it first emerged in Great Britain at the end of the 1950s as a reaction against the seriousness of abstract expressionism.
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 movement in Britain. In his early work Kitaj frequently blended pop collage methods with brushstrokes resembling those of abstract expressionismabstract expressionism,
movement of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the mid-1940s and attained singular prominence in American art in the following decade; also called action painting and the New York school.
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. 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 surrealismsurrealism
, literary and art movement influenced by Freudianism and dedicated to the expression of imagination as revealed in dreams, free of the conscious control of reason and free of convention.
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, 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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Kitaj, R. B. (Ronald Brooks)

(1932–  ) painter; born in Cleveland, Ohio. His family moved to Troy, N.Y. (1943), he studied at Cooper Union, New York (1950–51), and in Germany (1951–53) and England (1957–c. 62), where he settled permanently and gained a major reputation. Using many mediums, he created surrealistic images of tormented people, as in If Not, Not (1975–76).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.