Recent acquisitions
Arcimboldo to Kitaj

30 May – 1 September 2013
Free

Exhibition installation supported by the
PF Charitable Trust

Recommend this exhibition

This exhibition gives an extraordinary glimpse of 11,000 prints and drawings acquired by the British Museum over the past five years.

The 130 pieces on display will show how the Museum’s collection of graphic works has grown in recent years through generous gifts and bequests. The collection’s unique breadth and depth will be displayed in three distinct sections that span continents and centuries – from Italian artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527–1593) to challenging American painter and printmaker RB Kitaj (1932–2007).

One third of the exhibition will display 49 of nearly 300 works that Kitaj gave to the Museum shortly before his death in 2007. This will be the first presentation of his prints in London for two decades. His gift contained the major suites of prints from the 1960s and 1970s – including the magisterial In our Time series, as well as rarely seen prints such as Yaller Bird and the Red Dancer of Moscow.

Another third will concentrate on modern Italian graphic works – including Gastone Novelli’s drawing from 1960: Untitled (Homage to Samuel Beckett). The remainder of the exhibition will be divided between 20th- and 21st-century works, and material from earlier periods – from devotional prints to satires. Among these will be an engraving of 1577 by Johannes van Doetecum, illustrating popular proverbs, a heartbreaking etching by Francisco de Goya entitled El amor y la muerte (Love and death), two Picasso linocuts from the 1960s, and Grayson Perry’s Pilgrimage to the British Museum.

The Museum’s acquisitions budget has been supplemented by the generosity of many individuals and organisations – including the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund, the British Museum Friends, the Friends of Prints and Drawings, the Ottley Group, the Vollard Group. Four important works were allocated to the Museum by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax. The exhibition is a wonderful opportunity to see a fascinating cross-section of recent acquisitions by the Department of Prints and Drawings – made possible by the ongoing support of a broad range of patrons and benefactors.

RB Kitaj, Yaller Bird, 1964, Screenprint. R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art.

RB Kitaj, Yaller Bird, 1964, Screenprint. 
© R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art.


Exhibition catalogue

Exhibition catalogue

Kitaj Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné by Jennifer Ramkalawon is published by the British Museum Press. 
Available to buy from the shop online 

 

Highlights from the exhibition

  • A Life, 1975. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007) © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

    A Life, 1975. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007) 
    © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

  • An Exhortatory Letter to the English, about 1969. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007) © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

    An Exhortatory Letter to the English, about 1969. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007) 
    © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

  • Vernissage-Cocktail. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007). © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

    Vernissage-Cocktail, 1967. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007) 
    © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

  • Tree. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007). © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

    Tree, 1958. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007) 
    © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

  • Red Dancer of Moscow. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007). © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

    Red Dancer of Moscow, 1975. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007) 
    © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

  • For Love (Robert Creeley). R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007). From the series: First Series: Some Poets, 1966–70 © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

    For Love (Robert Creeley), 1966. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007). From the series: First Series: Some Poets, 1966–70 
    © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

  • Coming of Age in Samoa. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007). From the series: In Our Time: Covers for a Small Library After the Life For the Most Part, 1969–70 © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

    Coming of Age in Samoa. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007). From the series: In Our Time: Covers for a Small Library After the Life For the Most Part, 1969–70 
    © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

  • Nerves: Massage: Defeat: Heart, 1967. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007). From the series: Mahler Becomes Politics, Beisbol, 1964–7 © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

    Nerves: Massage: Defeat: Heart, 1967. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007). From the series: Mahler Becomes Politics, Beisbol, 1964–7 
    © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

  • Plays for Total Stakes, 1968. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007) © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

    Plays for Total Stakes, 1968. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007) 
    © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

  • Yaller Bird, 1964. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007) © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

    Yaller Bird, 1964. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007) 
    © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

  • La Lucha del Pueblo. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007). From the series: In Our Time: Covers for a Small Library After the Life For the Most Part, 1969–70 © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

    La Lucha del Pueblo. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007). From the series: In Our Time: Covers for a Small Library After the Life For the Most Part, 1969–70 
    © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

  • Ezra Pound II. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007). © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

    Ezra Pound II, 1974. R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007) 
    © R.B.Kitaj Estate, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art