R.B. Kitaj
The Murder of Rosa Luxemburg 1960

Artwork details

R.B. Kitaj 1932–2007
The Murder of Rosa Luxemburg
Date 1960
Medium Oil paint, ink, graphite and paper on canvas
Dimensions Support: 1530 x 1524 mm
frame: 1550 x 1535 x 55 mm
Acquisition Purchased 1980
Not on display

Display caption

This is an early example of Kitaj's many paintings on the theme of the unjust infliction of human suffering. Its ostensible subject is the murder in 1919 of the Jewish agitator and theoretician Rosa Luxemburg, who was killed by troops opposed to the revolutionary movement that swept Germany in the wake of the First World War. In the centre of this painting a figure holds Luxemburg's corpse, while at top right is a collaged transcription of an account of the murder. Kitaj associated Luxemburg with his grandmother Helene, who was forced to flee Vienna in the 1930s. The veiled figure at top left represents his maternal grandmother, who fled Russia as a result of earlier pogroms of the Jewish people.

September 2004

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