Art: Edgy Footnotes to an Era

At the Hirshhorn Museum, a powerful retrospective of R.B. Kitaj

With his retrospective of 102 paintings and drawings at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, the American Artist R.B. Kitaj, expatriate in England, has come home in force. For the past 15 years, Kitaj has been one of the most visible figures in European painting. His images, edgy and literary, full of sexual belligerence and failed political hopes, powerfully convey what the poet John Ashbery (in one of the catalogue essays for the show) calls "an era's bad breath." If Kitaj is not, in fact,...

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