Technique and condition

The painting falls stylistically into Kitaj's early style of composition and technique, when he was establishing himself as an artist after his term in the US Marines. The technique implies a tentative approach to his composition as various composition changes have been made. The presence of drying cracks also suggests that these compositional changes were immediate or at least made prior to the paint layer drying (the paint is quite thin and so would have dried quite quickly). The artist has preferred a fairly fluid paint suggested by the drip marks made by heavily diluted paint. He has also left the drip marks intact so as to leave an impression of this fluidity.

The painting appears to have spent the majority of its existence in a private collection (probably not environmentally controlled and subjected to ill-handling). The large numbers of exhibition labels on the reverse of the work bears testament to the extent to which this early painting by Kitaj has travelled and been handled. This may well account for the condition of the work as it is today.

Rachel Barker
July 1999