Wednesday, February 23, 2011

R.B. Kitaj

Kitaj was born in 1934 and died in 2007.  He was a well known artist who was born in America but spent most of his life in England.  He studied with the artist David Hockney and in fact, they became life long friends.
Kitaj's work relied on strong areas of color and overlapping planes that resembled painted collages.  The work was heavy with symbolism, historical, political and literature references.  Kitaj was known as a being an excellent draftsman.  His work showed the economy of a brilliant line, the mark of one gifted with the drawing tool. 
He called his style 'agitational usage'.  His large, complex compositions are a montage of distorted landscapes, constructions and exaggerated human forms. 
Yet, much of his work is very realistic as Kitaj moved between some fairly abstracted images to highly realistic figurative work.  A talented and skilled painter, his work emotionally expressive and powerful.    
After his wife died in 1997 Kitaj moved to Los Angeles.  He was one of the artists to to make a post-it drawing in 2000 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of 3M.  His post-it was sold on the internet for $925 making it the most expensive post-it note ever sold.
Kitaj took his own life 8 days before his 75th birthday.