Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Colored Figured Splendor

Kitaj, R.B.
Cecil Court, London WC2 (The Refugees)
Oil on canvas
72 x 72 in. (182.9 x 182.9 cm)
The Tate Gallery, London

Click on the title and you can enlarge the image, which I recommend, as there is so much to see here, this thumbnail doesn't do it justice. Of course that is a given with all these images, so I should probably drop that commentary.

A lot of the works that I will be posting are by artists that I am not not too familiar with. This blog is also a way for me to keep up on my art education. Work is a tremendous help, as I discovered Kitaj working on a recent exhibition catalog today. As usual, I knew the name and had a vague idea of his work but my knowledge has steadily increased since this afternoon. The show was at the Marlborough Gallery in NYC recently and while it focused on Kitaj's recent work (he passed away in 2007) it was also a homage to his life and overall work. It is a great catalog, pictorially focused on the work itself, but accompanied by short texts by those who knew him and worked with him. I learned a lot in a short span of time (hardest part of my job is not getting sucked into reading!)

Kitaj was engrossed in the art world, not only as a painter but also as a writer and organizer, he put together a number of exhibitions of his own. The catalog for the Marlborough show has a number of photos of Kitaj's studios, each covered in books, papers and photos, rooms I would feel at home in at once. He drew from his life, his environment, his history, art history (with a particular penchant for Cezanne) and his loves. The figure in the chaise at the bottom of this painting is Kitaj, reading a book, while the backdrop of Cecil Court (a haven for book lovers in London, oh why wasn't I more interested in rare books in 1999?!) and additional characters burst in and out of the scene. You can find Kitaj writing about this work and others here.

There is oh so much more, but I will stop here. If find this work at all intriguing I highly recommend delving into the world of Kitaj a bit more. There is something so rich and meaning and troubling? I haven't yet reconciled the description myself (yay for art!)

Just a note if you hadn't yet noticed, I will try to always create a link to bio info for both the artist and the featured work in each post. You should be able to find it by just clicking on the artist name or title of the work. Quick and dirty learning at its best.

Hope you enjoy!!

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