| Kitaj, R.B. Biography
American painter, living in England, whose figurative paintings explore the anxieties and contradictions of the human condition. Noted for his eclectic and original contributions to Pop Art.
Ronald Brooks Kitaj was born in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and spent much of his boyhood in Troy, New York. From 1950 to 1951 he studied art at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City. He went to Vienna, Austria, in 1951 and studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste (Academy of Fine Arts) until 1953. During the years 1950 to 1953 he also worked intermittently as a merchant seaman, traveling to the Caribbean and South America. From 1955 to 1957 he served in the United States Army. After additional travels in Europe and North Africa, Kitaj settled in England, studying from 1957 to 1959 at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford, England, and from 1960 to 1962 at the Royal College of Art in London.
Kitaj was associated with the beginnings of the Pop Art movement in Great Britain in the early 1960s. His works mingled the impersonal finish characteristic of Pop canvases with the loose, painterly brushwork of Abstract Expressionism but differed from the work of his Pop contemporaries in their complex and allusive figurative imagery. Kitaj's semi-abstract oil paintings featured brightly coloured and imaginatively interpreted human figures portrayed in puzzling and ambiguous relation to one another. His work was highly intellectual in its wealth of pictorial references to historical, artistic, and literary topics. Kitaj continued to exhibit widely throughout the 1960sand '70s while teaching oil painting at various British fine arts schools.
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