Ronald Brooks Kitaj (sometimes known as R.B Kitaj) is an American painter and graphic artist who has spent much of his career working in England. Kitajís work shows the political and social effects of contemporary mass culture, often with reference to historical events and their manipulation via the mass media. In this respect he was influenced by the work of fellow American, Robert Rauschenberg. By grafting ordinary objects onto his early paintings he was also pivotal in sparking the birth of British Pop Art; a movement with which he has been associated throughout his career.
Despite this, Kitaj claims not to be a Pop Artist. Rather than borrowing elements from popular culture, he uses a variety of sources including history, literature and politics for the inspiration behind his paintings. 19th Century French art has been a major source of inspiration as has a preoccupation with his own Jewish identity.
After decades of living in London, Kitaj recently moved to California. "He is increasingly reclusive." notes Alistair Hicks in his book on the Saatchi Collection, "Yet through the written word, the telephone and meeting people for lunch, he has frequent contact with many fine minds. He observes the world with a frightening clarity."
Ronald Brooks Kitaj died in October 2007, in Los Angeles.