Set in London’s Cecil Court, a street known for its second-hand bookshops and frequented by the artist, R.B. Kitaj, Cecil Court, London Wc2 (The Refugees) is a significant painting that reflects the artist’s increased awareness of his Jewishness. Completed upon Kitaj’s return to London after his wife’s suicide in 1984, it marks somewhat of a departure from his usual style.
The painting depicts refugees from Germany, reflecting Kitaj’s personal experiences with them during the Nazi era. It is held by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and was exhibited at the Jewish Museum in London in 2013 as part of an exhibition on Jewish art.
Kitaj was an American-born painter who settled in England and taught at various art schools throughout his career. His paintings are often narrative and ideologically complex.
Overall, Cecil Court showcases Kitaj’s ability to combine storytelling with artistic expression, making it one of many powerful pieces created during his lifetime.