R. B. KITAJ
R. B. Kitaj was born in 1932 at Cleveland, Ohio, US. In 1950 he went to sea on a Norweigian freighter which called at Havanna and Mexico. He studied one term at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York.
In 1951 he became a merchant seaman and signed on various tankers.
He then went to Europe for the first time and
studied until 1954 at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste,
Vienna, under Albert Paris Gütersloh and
Fritz Wotruba. He returned to sea and to New York,
travelled through Europe drawing,
and spent the winter at the Mediterranean
port of Sant Felio de Guixols, Catalonia.
He corresponded with Ezra Pound.
He served in the American Army from 1955 to 1957, following
which he studied at Oxford with a G.I. scholarship
and from 1960 to 1962 at the Royal College of Art
in London. He was a friend of
at the Royal College and
showed in the Young Contemporaries
exhibitions at the RBA Galleries.
Between 1961 and 1967 he taught at Ealing Technical College,
at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts,
and at the Slade School.
In 1962 he collaborated with Eduardo Paolozzi
and started using collage.
In 1963 he had his first one-man exhibition
at the Marlborough New London Gallery.
In 1964 he was represented at the Venice Biennale
and the documenta "3" exhibition and in 1968
at the documenta "4", Kassel. In 1965-66
he visited the USA and was given his
first retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art,
shown in 1967 at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
In the same year he was Guest Professor at the
University of California, Berkeley. In 1968 he returned to
England and became a friend of
In 1968 a retrospective exhibition of his entire
graphic work went on tour to Stuttgart, Munich, Düsseldorf,
Lübeck and Bonn and he worked on a project for the
exhibition Art and Technology
at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
In 1971 he returned to London. He went to Cadaqués to meet
Richard Hamilton. In 1976 he was included in
the exhibition Pop Art in England shown at
Hamburg, Munich and York. In 1978-79 he concentrated
entirely on drawing from models in pastel.
In 1981 he was represented at the exhibition
A New Spirit in Painting at the
Royal Academy of Arts, London.
He also had a large retrospective
exhibition of his work from 1958 to 1981 at Washington, Cleveland and
Kitaj shows the political and social effects of contemporary mass culture in his pictures, partly with reference to historical events and their manipulation and consumption via the mass media.
R. B. KITAJ
Kitaj married his first wife, Elsi Roessler, in 1953; they had a son, screenwriter Lem Dobbs, and a
daughter, Dominie. His first wife committed suicide in 1969.
After living together for 12 years, he married Sandra Fisher in December 1983; they had one son, Max. She died of a brain aneurysm in 1994.
He had a mild heart attack in 1990. He died in Los Angeles in October 2007, eight days before his 75th birthday. Seven weeks
after Kitaj's death, the Los Angeles County coroner ruled that the cause of death was suicide