Staring at art from the Tate's collection and thinking about it

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Good God Where is the King! - R.B. Kitaj

R.B. Kitaj, Good God Where is the King!, 1964, screenprint on paper, 765 x 508 mm, Tate.

Ok, you're going to need your zoom functions for this, whacked up to about 300%.
   R.B. Kitaj, whose life story is a tragic warning not to take your critics too seriously, is a hard artist to get a handle on.  The problem is, however many books you've read Kitaj has probably read more, and unless you've read the same ones as him, as referenced in his art, you will always have a sense that his work is doing something on a level you simply don't have access to.  It's not a question of whether he's good, more of the impossibility of being able to see exactly how good.  Here in this screenprint, pages from various books are collaged together.  Recent and ancient world history, with an emphasis on the military features.  Also, Al Capone's in there somewhere.  I could make an effort to decode it all.  But I don't, because I know I would never be able to do it well enough in order to do Kitaj's intentions justice.  I haven't read enough books.  I haven't read the right books.

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