Kitaj, Ron B. (1932-2007).
American painter and graphic artist, active mainly in England, where he
has been one of the most prominent figures of the Pop art movement.
Before becoming a student at the Royal College of Art, Kitaj had travelled
widely (he was a merchant seaman, then served in the US army) and his
wide cultural horizons gave him an influential position among his
contemporaries (he studied with
Allen Jones), particularly in holding up his own preference for figuration
in opposition to the prevailing abstraction.
After a visit to Paris in 1975, he was inspired by
to take up pastel, which he has used for much of his subsequent work.
Late 19th-century French art has been a major source of inspiration,
as has a preoccupation with his Jewish identity, and he has said:
I took it into my cosmopolitan head that I should attempt to do
Cézanne and Degas and Kafka over again,
Unlike the majority of Pop artists, Kitaj has had relatively little interest
in the culture of the mass media and has evolved a multi-evocative
pictorial language, deriving from a wide range of pictorial and literary
sources indeed he has declared that he is not a Pop artist. Ron
Kitaj died in Los Angeles on October 21st 2007.