Kitaj was born in America but studied at the Royal College of Art in London between 1959-62, with other artists who would become associated with ‘Pop’. Much of his art is autobiographical, even this early work. To Kitaj, each of these faces represented a different woman he had known fleetingly.
The sources of his imagery also reflect his fusion of contemporary abstract art and other forms of representation. The heads in profile were suggested by doodles made by the sixteenth-century humanist Erasmus. Kitaj has fused them with a figure style derived from Willem de Kooning’s nudes of the late 1940s.