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Ronald Brooks KitajVintage Poster British Pop Art 1972 Munich Olympic Swimmer R.B. KItaj
Swimming Poster: Published and printed in Germany by Olympia Edition. signed in the plate this is not mounted to linen or backed. has never been framed. It depicts an African (African American?) Olympic Swimmer. The Organizing Committee for the 1972 Munich Olympic Games decided to produce a series of artistic posters to "represent the intertwining of sports and art worldwide. Serge Poliakoff, Hans Hartung, Marino Marini, Oskar Kokoschka, Eduardo Chillida, Victor Vasarely, Josef Albers, Allen Jones, Allan D'Arcangelo, David Hockney, Tom Wesselmann, Jacob Lawrence and Hundertwasser were among the artists who participated. Ronald Brooks Kitaj RA 1932 – 2007 was an American artist with Jewish roots who spent much of his life in England. He became a merchant seaman with a Norwegian freighter when he was 17. He studied at the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Vienna and the Cooper Union in New York City. After serving in the United States Army for two years, in France and Germany, he moved to England to study at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford (1958–59) under the G.I. Bill, where he developed a love of Cézanne, and then at the Royal College of Art in London (1959–61), alongside David Hockney, Derek Boshier, Peter Phillips, Allen Jones and Patrick Caulfield. Richard Wollheim, the philosopher and David Hockney remained lifelong friends. "Through an earlier pre-occupation with turn-of-the-century intellectual life in Vienna (where he had started his art studies in the early 1950s), as well as an admiration for the Warburg Institute approach to the history of art-in-its-intellectual-context (since after Vienna he had moved to Oxford to study with the art historian Edgar Wind, before going on to the Royal College of Art) Kitaj has come to identify most strongly with the central European Jewish writer Franz Kafka, and with his sense of estrangement and of hidden mysteries. Illustrations to Kafka's aphorisms, imaginary portraits of his fiancée Felice and Count West-West who owned The Castle, appear in the Little Pictures, as do rapidly sketched portraits of Karl Kraus, Paul Celan, Leon Trotsky and Ludwig Wittgenstein, representations of Judeo-Christian mysteries of the hidden face of God. Kitaj settled in England, and through the 1960s taught at the Ealing Art College, the Camberwell School of Art and the Slade School of Art. He also taught at the University of California, Berkeley in 1968. He staged his first solo exhibition at Marlborough New London Gallery in London in 1963, entitled "Pictures with commentary, Pictures without commentary", in which text included in the pictures and the accompanying catalogue referred to a range of literature and history, citing Aby Warburg's analysis of symbolic forms as a major influence. He curated an exhibition for the Arts Council at the Hayward Gallery in 1976, entitled "The Human Clay" (an allusion to a line by W. H. Auden), including works by 48 London artists, such as William Roberts, Richard Carline, Colin Self and Maggi Hambling, championing the cause of figurative art at a time when abstract was dominant. In an essay in the controversial catalogue, he invented the phrase the School of London to describe painters such as Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Euan Uglow, Michael Andrews, Reginald Gray, Peter de Francia and himself. Kitaj had a significant influence on British pop art, with his figurative paintings featuring areas of bright colour, economic use of line and overlapping planes which made them resemble collages, but eschewing most abstraction and modernism. Allusions to political history, art, literature and Jewish identity often recur in his work, mixed together on one canvas to produce a collage effect. He also produced a number of screen-prints with printer Chris Prater. He told Tony Reichardt, manager of the Marlborough New London Gallery, that he made screen-prints as sketches for his future paintings. From then onwards Tony Reichardt commissioned Chris Prater to print three or four copies of every print he made on canvas. His later works became more personal. Kitaj was recognised as being one of the world's leading draftsmen, almost on a par with, or compared to, Degas. Indeed, he was taught drawing at Oxford by Percy Horton, whom Kitaj claimed was a pupil of Walter Sickert, who was a pupil of Degas; and the teacher of Degas studied under Ingres. He staged a major exhibition at Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1965, and a retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. in 1981. He selected paintings for an exhibition, "The Artist's Eye", at the National Gallery, London in 1980. In 1981 he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member and became a full Academician in 1984. In his later years, he developed a greater awareness of his Jewish heritage, which found expression in his works, with reference to the Holocaust and influences from Jewish writers such as Kafka and Walter Benjamin, and he came to consider himself to be a "wandering Jew". In 1989, Kitaj published "First Diasporist Manifesto", a short book in which he analysed his own alienation, and how this contributed to his art. His book contained the remark: "The Diasporist lives and paints in two or more societies at once." And he added: "You don't have to be a Jew to be a Diasporist." A second retrospective was staged at the Tate Gallery in 1994. the exhibition moved to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and afterwards to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1995. Kitaj was elected to the Royal Academy in 1991, the first American to join the Academy since John Singer Sargent. He received the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1995. He staged another exhibition at the National Gallery in 2001, entitled "Kitaj in the Aura of Cézanne and Other Masters". In September 2010, Kitaj and five British artists including Howard Hodgkin, John Walker, Ian Stephenson, Patrick Caulfield and John Hoyland were included in an exhibition entitled The Independent Eye: Contemporary British Art From the Collection of Samuel and Gabrielle Lurie, at the Yale Center for British Art. In October 2012 a major international symposium was held in Berlin to mark what would have been Kitaj's 80th birthday. It accompanied Obsessions, the first comprehensive exhibition of Kitaj's work since his death, held at the Jewish Museum, Berlin. The exhibition was shown in the UK in two parts at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester and the Jewish Museum London.
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