Self-portrait (Hockney Pillow) by RB Kitaj

Kitaj is one of the leading figurative painters of his time.


Oil on canvas
101.6 x 50.8 cm
Art Fund grant:
£29,447 ( Total: £64,297)
Acquired in:

Born in America, he attended the Royal College of Art in London where he was a vital influence on younger contemporaries such as David Hockney. During the early 1960s Kitaj's work became linked with the emergence of Pop Art although the psychologically charged nature of his iconography distanced him from the Pop mainstream. His work is complex and often autobiographical distinguished by an emphasis on depicting the human figure and by the central importance that he attaches to drawing. This remarkable self portrait was painted from life using a mirror. It depicts the artist in bed staring directly ahead, confronting the viewer with maximum force, his head resting on a pillow designed by Celia Birtwell. His appearance is disturbing - his darkened features and reddened eyes invest the image with an intense emotional charge that suggests links to earlier paintings which charted his physical and psychological deterioration as the result of age.


The artist; Marlborough Fine Art; Unknown; Sotheby's, 2006.

Venue details

National Portrait Gallery St Martin's Place, LONDON London WC2H 0HE 020 7306 0055

Entry details

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