R.B. Kitaj
Cecil Court, London W.C.2. (The Refugees) 1983–4

Artwork details

R.B. Kitaj 1932–2007
Cecil Court, London W.C.2. (The Refugees)
Date 1983–4
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 1830 x 1830 mm
frame: 1982 x 1978 x 90 mm
Acquisition Purchased 1985
Not on display

Display caption

This painting is set in Cecil Court, a street famous for its second-hand bookshops and a favourite haunt of the artist. It is one of many paintings made by Kitaj arising out of an increasing awareness of his own Jewishness. He wrote, 'I have a lot of experience of refugees from Germany and that's how this painting came about. My dad and grandmother ... just barely escaped.' The work shows the artist reclining on a sofa while figures from his life pop out of the street behind him. Kitaj has explained that this theatrical composition was inspired by the peripatetic troupes of the Yiddisher Theatre in Central Europe, which he had learned about from his grandparents and from in the diaries of the writer Franz Kafka.

September 2004