University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


Ron B. Kitaj (1932-2007)

Kitaj Escape into LifeR.B. Kitaj was born in Ohio in 1932. Upon his birth his father left the family and he was raised by his mother and step-father, who were both Jewish but professed Atheism. Raised as an Atheist he began to become more aware of his Jewishness around the time of the Eichmann Trial (1961). His need for further exploration about his heratige was solidified by a visit from his step-grandmother who was a Holocaust survivor. Kitaj spent a few years in the US Armed Forces before studying art in Englad between 1959-6 at the Royal College of Art. It was at the college he met his life long friend David Hockney.

In 1985 he became the first American since Sargent to be elected to the Royal Academy. He made great contributions to the world of art. He was innovative in content and method and his work was both admired and criticized for its freshness, humanitarianism and directness.




See also an article by Sander Gilman, ""R.B. Kitaj's 'Good Bad' Diasporism and the Body in American Jewish Postmodern Art," in Stephen Feinstein (ed). Absence/Presence: Critical Essays On The Artistic Memory Of The Holocaust (Religion, Theology, and the Holocaust). Syracuse University press. 2005.