Kitaj: Portraits and Reflections, Abbott Hall Gallery, until 8th October 2011
This summer Abbot Hall Art Gallery is curating the first major UK exhibition of the American artist R.B. Kitaj (1932-2007), following the Tate’s controversial retrospective in 1994, which drew an unexpected and undeserved trashing from the British press. Kitaj studied and lived for a large part of his career in Britain, and was initially linked with the ‘Young Contemporaries’ pheonomena that burst onto the British art scene in 1961, but his images combine an interest in popular and vernacular iconography with the legacy of abstract-expressionist brushwork and complex socio-cultural allegories – often linked to his Jewish heritage. The exhibition offers an opportunity for a fresh reappraisal of his artistic achievements, and will feature approximately fifty paintings and works on paper, which have been selected from the point of view of Kitaj’s own concept of painting as portraiture in its broadest sense. Including many self portraits and portraits of some of the leading thinkers, poets and artists of the nineteenth and twentieth century such as Isaiah Berlin, Robert Creeley and David Hockney.