R.B. Kitaj was an American artist who spent much of his life in England and helped define the post-war School of London with his expressive and erudite paintings. One of his notable works, The Oak Tree, is an oil painting on canvas that measures 152.7 x 152.4 cm and was completed in 1991. The image depicts a twisted oak tree with its branches reaching upwards against a bright blue sky.
Kitaj’s body of work often references art history, literature, and Judaism, and The Oak Tree is no exception. On the left side of the painting, words from Shakespeare’s play “As You Like It” are inscribed next to several branches: “And this our life exempt from public haunt finds tongues in trees.” This alludes to the idea that trees can speak to us if we listen closely enough.
The Oak Tree is a powerful representation of nature’s beauty and serves as a reminder to appreciate it fully. By infusing literary references into his work, Kitaj elevates it beyond just simple representation and imbues it with deeper meaning. As one gazes upon this painting, they are reminded not just of the mighty oak but also how nature ultimately connects us all through its own natural language – something we should never take for granted.