los-angeles

R. B. Kitaj

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Born in Ohio, and currently an expatriate in London at a time when English artists flock in the opposite direction, Kitaj uses the shored fragment and rag-bag technique as a defensive weapon against the imagined ruins of purism (“I don’t like the smell of art for art’s sake”). His disjointed paintings raise so many unpopular side issues about the role of disorder in a work of art, the possibility of “plural energies” (his phrase) in a time of simplistic monism, the range of subject matter permissible in contemporary painting, and the nature of the connections between the verbal and the visual, that one is almost cajoled into forgiving him for the vast extent of his individual artistic incoherencies. He assumes no such good will, however, on the part of the viewer, and instead slyly makes the proleptic announcement, in the course of a question and answer sequence in the catalog to his

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