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PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF R. B. KITAJ
R. B. Kitaj's extensive library and print collection at his L.A. home where he died in October 2007 highlight the significance that writing, history and politics played in his life and work.
Many of his paintings pay homage to artists he admired such as Cezánne, Degas, Picasso and Manet. The Killer-Critic assassinated by his Widower, Even which formed the central panel of his 1997 R.A. Exhibition piece, Sandra Three, is perhaps the culmination of his artistic association with Manet. Kitaj drew upon his Execution of Maximilian (H. 54) in this work, as he not only admired Manet as an artist but felt they shared experiences of persecution at the hands of their critics.
Manet's contemporaries were unsettled by the way in which he rearranged contemporary scenes in imitation of the old masters, believing that he was 'touched by romanticism from birth' which prevented him from creating art wholly of his own time (Hamilton, Manet and his Critics, New Haven, 1951, p. 152). Kitaj's extensive knowledge of the artists that preceded him, combined with the literary and historical references that imbued his work, led his critics to level similar charges. The empathy he felt for Manet encouraged him to begin collecting his graphic works early in his career. A selection of this collection is offered here.