R.B. Kitaj Biography
R.B. Kitaj was born in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. He enjoyed an extensive period in academia during the 1950s, first studying at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York from 1950-51, then returning in 1952. He spent time in the Merchant Navy in 1951 also attending the Academy of Fine Art, Vienna. Kitaj then went on to the Ruskin School of drawing in Oxford in 1958-9, and the Royal College of Art from 1959 to 1961. Kitaj recalled: “It was at the Royal College where, in the first week, I began my constant friendship with the amazing Hockney.”
He immersed himself in all aspects of artistic living – being equally profound through his particular aesthetic style, and through his literal analytic accomplishments of manifesto writing (First Diasporist Manifesto 1989, Second Diasporist Manifesto 2007.)
Tracing Kitaj’s philosophical motivations and commitments, Alex Danchev writes that “Kitaj apprenticed himself early to what he called ‘the primacy of artistic craziness’: passionate commitment, deep immersion, fierce self-scrutiny. His career is a monument to the dedicated artist-life. He grew crazier with each passing year.” (100 Artist’s Manifestos, Danchev, 2011).
In 1958, Kitaj had his first group exhibition ‘Young Contemporaries’ at RBA Galleries, London. He was then included in a further thirteen group exhibitions within Europe and beyond, including John Moore’s Liverpool exhibition 3 years in a row, before holding his first one-man exhibition at Marlborough Fine Art, London in 1963.
He taught at various prestigious intuitions, including University of California Berkeley 1967-8, University of California Los Angeles in 1970-1. In 1972 he returned to London. His 1983 marriage to the American artist Sandra Fisher (1947-94) is