Literary Collage

"For me, books are what trees are for the landscape painter," says Ronald B. Kitaj, 32, an American expatriate who nearly rules Britannia's new wave of painters. His studio is a library in London, where he keeps pamphlets and books open for perusal while he paints. He appends long bibliographies to his show catalogues, and has even convinced British revenue agents that his book purchases are tax-deductible business expenses.

Erasmus' Doodles. All of this makes Kitaj (pronounced Ki-teye) pop's most literary painter. After soup cans and Cinemascopic cartoons, critics found his collages of...

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