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The Wedding, 1989–1993

R. B. Kitaj

Oil on canvas | 183 x 183 cm | Tate: Donation of the artist, 1993
© Tate, London 2017 © R.B. Kitaj Estate, courtesy of Marlborough Fine Art

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In 1983, R.B. Kitaj married the artist Sandra Fisher at a Sephardic synagogue in North London. Six years later, he commemorated the event by means of this painting. He is the one dancing with his wife, on the right side of the composition, wearing a blue yarmulke.

 

The painting reflects a festive atmosphere, not only due to its colours, but also in the rhythm of its shapes. Kitaj shows the influence that pop art and collages had over him with the vibrancy that it exudes and his effort to depict the atmosphere and emotion of the celebration via a frenetic ensemble.

 

Three of the artists in this exhibition attended the wedding and are represented in the painting: Lucian Freud, to the far left with his back to us, Frank Auerbach in the centre, with a grey face outlined in dark blue, and Leon Kossoff, peering in from the far right. Kitaj also included another artist that was akin to his sensibility, his best man David Hockney, the blonde-haired man at the back. As a result, the piece is a sort of group portrait of this set of friends, who engaged in a close artistic dialogue that at times became healthy competition. In works such as these, the artist develops a harmonious and cultured style in which literary, religious and plastic traditions come together in the same place: the painting.