19 July to 27 October 2013
Galerie der Gegenwart, 2. Obergeschoss
R. B. Kitaj (1932-2007) The Murder of Rosa Luxemburg,1960, Oil and collage on canvas, 153 x 152,4 cm, Tate Gallery
Kitaj: „My Rosa painting [...] was not as radical as she was, butradical enough for a student in an art college. [...] Although Rosa was ofcourse, a Communist, I never was. [...] It's just that Jewish cultural life withall its disasters, brilliance, learning, evasions and daring has conducted meand my art like an excited zombie or Golem stumbling into real trouble, like myJews so often do. [...]
R. B. Kitaj (1932-2007) The Ohio Gang, 1964. New York, Oil and graphite on canvas, 183.1cm x 183.5 cm Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Philip Johnson Fund 1965 © 2013 The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala,Florence
Kitaj ca, 1988/89): „WhenI was young, I was a grandchild of Surrealism. You could call this a (very)late Surrealist picture. [...]
The Ohio Gang is an ‚automatic' painting freely associated like adepictive surreal abstraction, but now, almost 25 years later, I would like tosuggest some dream ‚meaning'.
R. B. Kitaj (1932-2007) Juan de la Cruz, 1967 © R. B.Kitaj Estate; Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo
Kitaj, 1994: „This is the only picture Idid about Vietnam (partly), and since then, heresies and orthodoxies about thatwar have changed places many times, just as they do in art and just as the linebetween heresy and orthodoxy in St. Juan's time was very fine indeed. I used tospend my summers in Franco's Spain and I became very interested in Juan whospent forty-nine years in and out of the claws of the Inquisition. He was bornto an underclass, like my Sgt. Cross, torn between devotion to his calling andtradition on the one hand and St Teresa's Reform on the other, like theAmerican Black soldier must have been in Vietnam.
R. B. Kitaj (1932-2007) Reflections on Violence, 1962 Öl und Collage auf Leinwand, 153 x 153 cm Hamburger Kunsthalle © R. B. Kitaj Estate Photo: Elke Walford
Source of text: George Sorel, Réflexions sur la violence (Paris 1908)
Kitaj, 1994: „This is just about my first London painting, aside from lifeclass work, and maybe the first where I pressed down notes among the pictographs and ideograms. When I arrived in London, one thing I did was to seek out Vorticism and its milieu at the Tate because I'd been reading Wyndham Lewis and his anti-liberal friends. Very soon they would bore me, but from that circle, it was T.E. Hulmes translation of Reflections on Violence by Georges Sorel that caused this picture to happen. Sorel is one of those lesser iconoclasts (not a genius poet like Nietzsche) one stumbles upon when young, whose furious insights induce a shock of recognition. [...]
Isaiah Berlin, in his classic essay on Sorel (which I didn't read until many years after my painting), calls him an outsider of outsiders who prized only total independence and who still has the power to upset. Sounds like red meat for a hungry young painter for whom such books were as trees for a landscapist. Sorel was called a lot names: romantic, pessimist, erratic, muddle-head (Lenin called him that), all of which I call myself. Leafing through Sorel again after more than thirty years, he attracts me and repels me in equal daubs, as does this painting of mine whenever I see it on my trips to Hamburg. His proto-surrealist emphasis on the power of the irrational in human thought and action sparked my late surrealist reflections on canvas in a little terrace house in south London called Oban." (Tate 1994, London, S. 74)
Die Retrospektive 1958 bis 2007
Essay: Eckhart Gillen, R.B. Kitaj – verborgener Jude und bekennender Diasporist, S. 6-7